WEST GARDINER — Sandra Palmer Fish is a small island of calm in a busy world.

In this raucous presidential election year, she’s torn about the campaign: She wants to watch the news to educate herself about the candidates and their issues, but she doesn’t care for the brawls and chronic rancor.

For Palmer Fish, peace and promoting it is her guiding philosophy. As a creative person, she has drawn on her skills and interest to help other people, particularly children, find peace, too, dating back long before the first insult was hurled in this election season.

It came into focus for her after the terrorist attacks of 9/ll, when violence and hatred seemed to drown out nearly everything else. While she couldn’t influence the world, she could influence the people around her.

“I was so overwhelmed, and I was thinking about what can I do to help? I can’t make world peace, but I can use my words and creativity,” she said. “It starts with me, and it spreads that way.”

Children, she finds, are a good vehicle for spreading a message like that.

She has worked as a kindergarten teacher, a long-term substitute and is a volunteer who brings enrichment programming to young students.

“Most people want to get along, I think,” she said. Focusing on what people have in common rather than exploiting their differences is one way to promote that.

The result of that impulse was her first book, “S.E.W. (Sisters Everywhere Wishing) for Peace,” published in 2007. Coupling reflections about peace with counting, Palmer Fish wrote the text and gathered hand-sewn fabric creations that she and her friends and family made — each with a heart — for the book’s illustrations.

To fulfill her calling as an educator, she has given workshops and presentations to children and to adults at schools, libraries, art centers, anywhere that’s willing to host her. When she sold copies of the book, she donated the proceeds to education organizations.

For her second book, “Peace by Piece,” Palmer Fish took a different approach in the illustrations, using paper mosaics. At the urging of her son Elijah, she cast a wider net for illustrators to include contributions from him and his male cousins.

Margaret Peacock found herself pulled into making a page for the book after a conversation with Palmer Fish, and she found the challenge a little intimidating.

“I’d never done anything like it before,” Peacock said. “The only thing that could spur me on was the knowledge that other people were working on pages, too.” Peacock’s assignment was to make a page on the color orange. She created a beach scene, complete with seagulls and a stolen drink.

“Peace by Piece” focuses on colors and emotions as the theme. In this book, too, each illustration contains a heart. Palmer Fish finds that it’s a prompt to get people, no matter their age, to look closely at the images and find the prompt for peace in each one.

A fellow kindergarten teacher and West Gardiner resident, Peacock said she’s seen Palmer Fish at work in kindergarten classes. “Her demeanor is of absolute calmness, and that causes everyone else to feel that way.”

She’s been giving workshops and presentations around this book, too, bringing along the original art to show and materials for people to make their own illustrations.

“People have been very excited about the project, and that’s reassuring to me,” she said, because peace is a notion that’s not so out of date.

Palmer Fish isn’t in it for the money. She self-publishes and funds that out of her own pocket. She has looked for grants to help defray costs, but she hasn’t had much luck there. Only recently has a friend suggested setting some of the proceeds aside to pay for publishing the next set of books, which she now does because she doesn’t like to take money away from her family for her project.

She’s also launched a fundraising campaign at the suggestion of her family on crowd-funding site Kickstarter to help pay the cost of printing her books, which she does in blocks of 50 at a time, which is fairly expensive.

Palmer Fish is reluctantly embracing technology with a website — www.sewforpeace.weebly.com — and a Facebook page.

She is not, she said, very good at sales pitches.

But that’s not the goal.

“The fact that Sandy brought her friends and family in and shared the process is an important example of how to do anything in life,” Peacock said. “Share the process and enjoy the result.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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