New Virginia license plate celebrates community peacebuilding

Christine Poulson MA ’98, executive director of Resolution Virginia, in a 2015 portrait (Photo by Kara Lofton).

Thanks in part to the leadership of an Eastern Mennonite University Center for Justice and Peacebuilding alumna, a new license plate option in Virginia is spreading a message of – and raising funds for – community peacebuilding.

The Community Peacebuilding plate, which became available a year after the tragic events of August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, “can start conversations that we need to have,” said Christine Poulson MA ‘98, the executive director of Resolution Virginia, a consortium of nine not-for-profit community dispute resolution centers. “Having this plate on one’s vehicle sends a message that we value each other and support peaceful communities where everyone can thrive.”

The second such project by Resolution Virginia, the plate displays a globe held up by human arms with different skin tones. Spanning the bottom of the plate are the phrase “Community Peacebuilding” and an urban-to-rural skyline. It was designed by graphic artist Dean Paris of Paris Designs in Takoma Park, Maryland.

After 1,000 are sold, Resolution Virginia will receive $15 for each $25 plate that is purchased. To keep the plate in production, at least 250 need to be on the road across the state. Currently approximately 100 are in use.

The organization’s first plate – a campaign for which then-volunteer Poulson played a key role – showed a dove and has been in production for 10 years. Designed by Liz Frankl of the Frankl Creative Group, it has earned nearly $400,000 for the organization, Poulson said.

Both the Community Peacebuilding and the Peace dove plates are available online and through Department of Motor Vehicles offices.

“Many people are tired of animosity,” Poulson said. “These license plates suggest that the vehicles’ owners value coming together” – and further Poulson’s goal of making community-based dispute resolution “more a part of our culture.”

The Staunton-based Resolution Virginia, formerly known as the Virginia Association for Community Conflict Resolution, is a member of the National Association for Community Mediation and associated with the Virginia Mediation Network and the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Department of Dispute Resolution Services.