Monthly Archives: November 2011

Borders are where imagination begins

Peace Exchange has something rather special up its sleeve today.

Something that really speaks to the essence of the Peace it Together network’s endeavours.

Curious? Well, it comes in the form of a video.

Here it is.

Yes, it’s a Ted talks video. Perhaps you’re acquainted with Ted.

Ted, according to Wikipedia is: “a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, formed to disseminate ‘ideas worth spreading'”.

In other words, freely accessible and frequently uploaded recordings of talks given by innovators from all walks of life: from technology, to literature, to science, to politics and beyond.

The video above is listed under Ted’s ‘inspiring’ category.

And indeed it is, when you consider that the lady giving the talk, Amy Purdy, is a double amputee who nonetheless went on to become a snowboarding champion, an entrepreneur and a pioneer.

There may be some who may snicker a little at her obvious nerves and rather cliche-ed opening.

Regardless, if you put that aside and watch till the end (it’s a whisker over nine minutes) you’ll find the video speaks about an oft-repeated, but ultimately transformational idea.

In Amy’s words:

“Our borders and obstacles can do only two things: one –  stop us in our tracks, and two – force us to get creative…

“Borders are where the actual ends, and also, where imagination begins…

“It’s not about breaking down borders, it’s about  pushing off of them,  and seeing what amazing places they might bring us…”

The Peace it Together network aims do that too, using current obstacles as a starting point to  “get creative” in bringing the island’s communities together.

It uses the boundaries that exist to harness imagination for the benefit of peacebuilding and cooperation.

And it acts to to keep the island’s citizenry aware of the possibilities for intercommunal harmony and reconciliation.

These are a few of the reasons why Peace Exchange thinks you should watch the video. Quite apart from which, it’s a compelling life story told with simplicity,  sincerity and an endearing self-deprecation.

Meanwhile, the International Day of Persons for Disabilities is just round the corner, to be marked on December 3. You can read UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for the day here.

That’s all for the moment, but the Peace Exchange will be bringing you more good stuff very shortly.

Till then, stay tuned, keep warm and… see you in the next post!


Tweeting an end to violence against women

Today, November 25th, is International Day for Ending Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) and the Peace Exchange wants Twitter and Facebook users to do something about it.

For Twitter users in particular, you can join in a Tweetathon to spread the word about the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence using the #16days and #IDEVAW hashtags in your tweets.

The 16 days of activism campaign is an international campaign that began in 1991. From November 25 to December 10, International Human Rights Day, the campaign calls on individuals and groups around the world to act to end all forms of violence against women and girls.

In her first message for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, since UN Women became operational earlier this year, Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet outlined the 16  Steps Policy Agenda to End Violence against Women.

Bachelet’s call for action urged world leaders to mobilise political will and investment to ensure that women can live a life without violence.

And this is an important call, because the violence is relentless and all too real.

According to UNite to End Violence Against Women

Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. Based on country data available , up to 70 per cent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime – the majority by husbands, intimate partners or someone they know.

Among women aged between 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.  Perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today, violence against women devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development. It takes many forms and occurs in many places – domestic violence in the home, sexual abuse of girls in schools, sexual harassment at work, rape by husbands or strangers, in refugee camps or as a tactic of war.

So back to the Tweetathon and how you can help today.

If you’re on Twitter, please participate:

Join the conversation by using the #16days hashtag. Donate a tweet, or several.  Here are a few suggestions:

“This Friday is #IDEVAW and the start of #16days2011. Join the #16days tweetathon on 25 Nov to spread awareness about #GBV & #VAW”

“Today is #IDEVAW and the start of #16days2011. What can we do to combat #GBV & #VAW all year? Share your thoughts using the #16days hashtag”

“Happening now: #16days tweetathon. Check out what people are saying about #GBV & #VAW and join the conversation! #IDEVAW #16days2011″

“#FollowFriday: the #16days tweetathon! #GBV #VAW #IDEVAW #16days2011 #FF”

If you’re not on Twitter, please tell your friends:

Post the details of this Tweetathon on your other social networks, or drop an email to friends to join in.

Go ahead, take action and… see you in the next post!

Of peace declarations, olive mills and handmade macaroni

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 While it’s common knowledge that young people possess an enviable amount of passion, determination and energy for issues close to their hearts, the Peace Exchange takes a particular interest in the peace-driven initiatives of the Youth Activism project – one of the most vigorous partners in the Peace it Together network.

(And if you missed PE’s earlier post about Youth Activism – managed by the 12-member Youth Power network – you can read it here.)

Last Sunday, Youth Activism  was again the conduit for a hotbed of activity, with a one-day conference organised by Youth Power network member KAYAD, and a bus trip to the villages of Catoz and Komikebir (the latter now known as Büyükkonuk) put together by Youth Power network member HASDER.

The United Cyprus 20/20 conference – a reference to Cypriot youth’s perfect vision of a united island by the year 2020 – was held at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia’s buffer zone.

The event brought together about 16 young people (in their teens to early twenties) from both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, with a line-up of peace-oriented activities from morning until mid-afternoon.

Firstly, a brainstorming session allowed for an idea exchange in which all participants shared perspectives on their expectations of a shared future on the island.

Topics ranged from advocating for “bilingual education and a common media, to approaches to immigration and demilitarisation”, said Youth Power’s Katerina Antoniou.

Thereafter, three groups were formed, each with a separate objective: to create a peace-themed video, to design two peace-oriented posters and to draft a peace declaration based upon and integrating the viewpoints aired in the earlier brainstorming session.

The Peace Exchange will be bringing you more on the official release of the video, the posters and the peace declaration in later posts, so watch this space!

Meanwhile on the same day, about 40 teens met up at the Ledra Palace crossing point and headed off by bus to one of the loveliest parts of the island, the Karpaz peninsula.

At Komikebir/Büyükkonuk,  an eco-village of about 800 residents, there was a chance for the young visitors to see traditional olive mills in use, as well as view the time-honoured ways of bread-baking and making macaroni by hand.

The trip was part of the ‘Hope Chest’ workshops, organised both by HASDER and Soma Akriton, which aim to familiarise youth from Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities with the common traditional culture of Cyprus.

A trip to the lace-making village of Lefkara and a Henna night are next up in the Hope Chest series and, rest assured, the Peace Exchange will be bringing you the details very shortly.

Till soon then, and… see you in the next post!

A call to action for Cyprus community media

“Community Media is a positive force in reconciliation on the island and inclusion of all communities into a multicultural Cyprus”

Community media has taken centre-stage in Nicosia’s Buffer Zone over the past two days, with the CMFE 2011 being the hub for sharing information on both the challenges and opportunities for media’s ‘third sector’.

In case you missed the Peace Exchange’s introduction to the event, you can read it here.

Meanwhile, highlights from the sessions have been recorded and archived, and can be viewed here, and a wealth of photographs, quotes and information can be found on the event’s posterous page.

International delegates have offered conclusions and yet-to-be-resolved challenges from a wealth of European and Middle Eastern experiences, as a quick glance at some of the plenary topics illustrates:

  • The state of community media in Europe
  • Community media and the Arab Spring
  • Community media, intercultural dialogue and participation
  • Towards an enabling environment for community media in Cyprus

Today, as the CMFE 2011 winds up, delegates and stakeholders will approve the CMFE‘s endorsement of a community media declaration made by the CCMC.

The declaration sets out Cyprus community media’s foundational elements, its European-level safeguards and its members and natural allies.

It presents the principles to guide the island’s community media, the broad spectrum of its remit and the duties it undertakes towards its diverse stakeholders.

It lays out the importance of community media’s integration with the public service and private commercial media sectors, calling for responsible cooperation between civil society, educators and agents of mainstream media.

In short, the declaration strives to safeguard, promote and mobilise the community media of Cyprus, calling to action all who are its members and affiliates, and urging the broadest possible support for its efforts.

The Peace Exchange will continue to bring you more developments on community media in Cyprus and the work of the CCMC as they unfold.

Meanwhile, stay warm and dry and… see you in the next post!

Giving media’s third sector a say

Traditionally, mainstream broadcast media has been, until recently – amid the rapid proliferation of free digital tools and the legitimacy of user-generated content – carved up between the public service and privately commercial camps.

Conversely, there has been less of an official ‘ear’ granted to grassroots media, expressing the concerns and interests of local communities.

The Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE) – whose inaugural three-day event in Cyprus kicks off today, hosted by the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) – was founded to address this void, strengthen the participation of the ‘Third Media Sector’ in European discussion and decision-making processes.

To elaborate:

The “Third Media Sector” is made up of non profit-making media, serving a local community and has … a clearly distinct identity alongside the national public service sector and private commercial media.

The CMFE is a common platform for networks, national federations and projects active within this sector … it enables the participating organisations to bring up their concerns on a European and international level and … represents a channel through which European institutions can spread information on relevant questions to CMFE participants.

Such effort has successfully translated into two declarations at the Council of Europe level, says Media Against Racism in Sport‘s Stefan Tenner and, further:

In 2009 CMFE was admitted as observer on the Steering Committee on the Media and new Communications Services (CDMC) and the newly formed Group of Specialists on New Media (NC-NM) of the Council of Europe (CoE), where it has the important role of representing the interest of the Community Media sector at the pan-european level. CMFE was granted participatory status with the Council of Europe as of 29 December 2010 and is part of the International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGO) conference.

Nonetheless, “the CMFE’s remit is not limited to Europe alone”,‘s Henry Loeser told The Peace Exchange, but aims to address shortfalls in the safeguarding, representation and integration of community media wherever such a need exists.

Loeser stressed that CMFE’s 2011 conference, drawing over 100 international delegates, was intended to engage with grassroots media from across Europe and globally, as well as with both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and will, in a schedule highlight later today, bring key regional activists to offer insight into community media’s role in the wake of the Arab Spring.

The event’s schedule may be viewed in full here. There will also be live feeds, photographs and blogging during and between plenary sessions posted on the conference’s virtual space:

Where media is made, played and conveyed

Here’s another video to brighten your day, because we really do like to pass on the good stuff.

Mind you, better fasten your seat-belt for this one – and turn up the volume on your speakers. It’s not exactly the tame, timid type of vid to watch on auto-pilot.

Far from it in fact. But then, nothing about the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) is tame or timid either.

In fact, since opening its doors in late 2009  this Peace it Together partner has offered training, dedicated support and equipment loan to its own members – around 30 organisations (and growing) representing “a broad range of civil society organisations throughout Cyprus”.

Meanwhile, its core team of six staff members have run or hosted a wide range of media-training workshops (blogging, video production and editing, press release production, social networking etc).

They’ve shot videos, taken photos, held public events, set up online forums and, above all, have always been at the end of the phone, offering advice whenever needed.

Indeed, CCMC encourages media pluralism, alternative voices and media collaboration between journalists and the media from both communities, and promotes the benefits of community-based media to as wide an audience as possible, while giving people the skills to be in control of their own messages.

Amid this digital beehive of activity – the CCMC folks are a friendly bunch, too – drop by some time and say hi, their office is located at Nicosia’s Ledra Palace in the buffer zone.

You can always keep up with what’s going on by signing up for CCMC’s weekly electronic newsletter or RSS to their website.

Which is probably as good a place as any to mention that we’ll be posting on the Community Media Forum Europe event that CCMC will be hosting next week.

Till soon and… see you in the next post.

(You can undo your seat belt now).

Scratching the surface for new ideas

Every so often, The Peace Exchange will be taking a look at projects and initiatives that are taking place worldwide to build better lives for communities around the globe.

In this post, we’re turning our gaze momentarily to the Voices from Eurasia blog, where something rather exciting is happening, in the form of a digital challenge: Social Innovation Camp Armenia (Mardamej) that is taking place later this month.

For those planning to participate, the objective is to “bring together ideas, people and digital tools to build web-based solutions to social problems – all in just 48 hours“.

Moreover, the  “social problems’ to be tackled should constitute an “itch” that needs to be “scratched” or addressed, with passion, creativity and the playground of free digital tools that today’s world wide web provides.

How’s that for fun? Not to mention, ambitious?

There’s nothing that The Peace Exchange likes more than socially innovative solutions to problems afflicting communities.

And social innovation camps are all about that, drawing on the wealth of experience and know-how that becomes immediately available when you get a large cross-section of people together to solve or respond to a common challenge.

This is similar to what happens with the work of the Peace it Together network, given the wealth of experience and diverse range of fields in which its partners work.

Approaching peace-building from a multitude of perspectives and angles, while harnessing the creativity and potential of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, is social innovation in action.

So. Just for fun, let’s get thinking. What are some of the “itches” you want to “scratch” in Cyprus – or beyond – using the freely available resources of the internet?

(There’ll  be a digital high-five for the most innovative suggestion you leave in the comments section below…)