Peace signs

Charles Withuhn

photo by shannon rooney

After a 40-year run with his successful sign-making business, Signs and Graphic Design (see Newslines, “Signs of the time,” Jan. 31), Charles Withuhn sold the company and turned his focus to a project he started a few years ago: The Peace Panel Project. The Chico State grad uses his immense talents as a graphic artist to create large, graphically arresting panels that convey messages related to “peace-making.” Pedestrians and drivers can see his panels on the northeast corner of Third and Main streets in downtown Chico just about every Saturday morning. He also takes his 38-panel project on the road. Go to to contact Withuhn, or email him at

Why do you make and share these panels?

I’m just incredibly frustrated that such important issues as the Fairness Doctrine, non-violent communication, militarism, and corporate abuse of power are not mentioned in the media very much. In just the last few years, the sources of our information have diminished from more than 50 to about six, which multi-national corporations control. We’re not hearing about things such as how the U.N. is preparing a probe on the U.S. use of drones.

What are you working on right now?

[Grant writer] Julie Estep and I have been looking for funding for the Peace Panel Project, a traveling exhibit that goes to universities and colleges in California and Nevada. Students are more receptive than the average person.

How has the project grown?

I’ve learned that I want to leave people with a positive feeling. A new thing for me is presenting problems to people [via panels, brochures and discussions] and then giving them suggestions for positive actions they can do.

How do you get ideas for new panels?

I listen to alternative media such as Amy Goodman, Project Censored, Free Speech Radio News, and something will come out that is just so shocking to me that I want to share it with people. I think [peace activist] Kathy Kelly put it best, “I just didn’t want to be like the people in Germany as the Nazis came to power who did nothing.” People say, “What good does it do to stand on a corner?” But it’s something. That is so important to me.