SPOKANE, Wash. — Some warmth is emanating from Spokane's South Hill during these unusually cold winter months.
John Pogachar, a health and life coach, is choosing to spread a simple yet profoundly moving message. On Tuesday morning, he put up another red billboard with the word "Love" near Regal Street and 57th Avenue.
Pogachar, who lives in Spokane, previously erected four billboards in the city with the word “Love” in capital white letters on a simple red background. The one on Regal is the only one that is still standing in Spokane right now.
“The elections were going on about three years ago and I kept going, ‘Where is all the love in the world?' And it was just beyond me,’” Pogachar told KREM in November.
Pogachar’s message is extending far beyond Spokane, too. In November, one of his billboards went up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in response to a shooting at The Tree of Life synagogue that left 11 people dead.
“I thought, ‘I need to fill somebody’s heart.’ I need to fill a hole in Pittsburgh because it seems like that city was hurting so much just like a lot of cities in the United States are from things going on,” Pogachar said.
The billboards have also appeared in Iowa, St. Louis, Detroit, Seattle and even Europe.
"A woman from Russia called me she said, 'Can we put these billboards in Russia?' I said, 'Yes you can,'" Pogachar said. "It's pretty cool. It's pretty cool that two countries can come together and set aside everything and just come together for love and just put that out there. I just want to keep putting these up so we just shift the vibration of the country, shift the vibration of the world."
Pogachar has been responsible for a total of 61 billboards so far, including 23 digital billboards in Russia. The billboard in St. Louis was also just recently featured in a Jason Mraz music video for the song "Love is Still the Answer."
The beginnings of 'Love on Every Billboard'
Pogachar's project, called Love on Every Billboard, was inspired by a coaching conference call with 50 other people across the nation that he takes every morning, and two weeks camping in Kings Canyon National Park during a retreat in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Pogachar then decided to pursue help from an advertising company and asked Nick Lewis, owner of Kingsley & Scout clothing store in Spokane, to help him design a logo.
Each one of the billboards costs $950 each. Pogachar said he receives funding from friends and people on his daily coaching calls. Those interested in donating can also do so on the Love on Every Billboard website or by emailing Pogachar at email@example.com.
“Can you even imagine? Can you feel what it would be like to no longer be bombarded by advertising, manipulation and sales tactics, and instead be surrounded by messages that reflect back to you the most important things in life?” the Love on Every Billboard site reads.
Fear almost held Pogachar back when he thought of starting his project. But then a simple thought crossed his mind: Who am I not to do it?
“I decided to let go of the judgment and start doing things that I want to do for the world,” he said.
His end goal is to erect billboards throughout the U.S. in places where shootings, natural disasters or other tragedies occur. But the billboards are also meant to show that acts of love and kindness can be simple – like paying for someone’s coffee or parking – and that love should be extended to everyone, Pogachar said.
Pogachar said he has received support and positive feedback from many Spokane community members in response to the billboards.