Summit to gather to fold peace cranes |

Summit to gather to fold peace cranes

FRISCO – It takes 46 folds of a 6-inch, square piece of paper to transform the paper into a crane – the Japanese symbol for peace.

That’s what Mountain Mentors youth and others will work on Friday as part of an annual peace crane gathering that brings people together to remind them of the ongoing efforts to restore peace in the world.

People have been folding origami for a lot longer than that, however.

In Japan, people fold cranes in memory of Sadako Sasaki, who was 2 years old when America bombed Hiroshima. Ten years later, she was diagnosed with leukemia – then called the “Atom Bomb Disease” by the Japanese. While hospitalized, a friend reminded her of a Japanese legend: Cranes live for 1,000 years, and a sick person who folds 1,000 cranes will become well again.

Sadako folded cranes throughout her illness. When she died at age 12, she had folded 644 birds. Classmates folded the remaining 356 cranes so she could be buried with 1,000 birds.

The practice continues today throughout the world.

Last year, about 60 people gathered at the Community and Senior Center in Frisco to learn the intricacies of the art, all the while keeping in mind that doing something in commemoration of Sept. 11 was better than reflecting upon the infamous date.

Forty-six thousand folds later, on Sept. 11, 2002, they distributed 1,000 peace cranes throughout the county.

This year the gathering will focus on the events of the past year, said Shanna Koenig, program director for Mountain Mentors.

“There is still a struggle for peace (throughout the world),” she said. “What’s going on today is worse than what was going on last year. There’s been so much upheaval since 9-11. We want to acknowledge what’s going on here in our country and throughout the world and how we continue to lose lives due to this event.”

She and others were pleased to see the ethnic diversity represented in the room last year: Hispanics, Asians, black and white people. There was also a wide age range: from a 6-year-old who was learning to fold origami to an 80-year-old man whose daughter had left behind an origami book when she went to college.

At first, many said the numerous folds were an exercise in frustration. Folds have to be exact, or the paper won’t bend back into place later, or a beak might end up pointing in the wrong direction.

Others had been folding origami for years, and jumped in to help beginners. At noon, people were laughing and chatting; several hours later, they were contemplative. The room was silent, save for the soft sound of people creasing paper.

Later they would say the activity reminded them of a quilting bee, a barnraising or a community supper. Several wondered if someday people of the world could work together like they did that day.

“The whole community was represented there,” Koenig said. “It brought everyone together and really focused on healing and got some conversations going. It was beneficial for the youth. It nurtured healing, brought clarity to what happened.”

Jeannie Ringelberg of Frisco agreed.

“I think if the world could operate a little like all the people in this room, we’d have a world that thinks, dialogs with each other and respects peoples’ learning styles,” she said last year. “Our country is declining in social capital, and here we all are. We need more of this. People are putting aside their egos and sitting down and learning from each other.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or

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