Monthly Archives: June 2012

Making the moves that matter

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If you haven’t melted away in this heatwave over the past few days, then high five! Peace Exchange really has to applaud you… summer has well and truly arrived.

Luckily, here to share some refreshing news is Jale Canlibalik of ENGAGE, with a look at the Peace it Together partner’s ‘On the Move’ campaign.

Read on!

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Doing away with the traditional conferences and seminars and inviting people to come to us, the ENGAGE team are now coming to you through our ENGAGE-On the Move campaign.

This campaign has seen the team join in various festivals across the island as a way of interacting with the local community and taking part in local festivities while actively promoting reconciliation.

To date, we have ‘drummed’ with the children in Famagusta with ‘DrumInspire’ at the Famagusta Walled City Association’s 4th Annual Children’s Festival.  We have immersed ourselves in the rose waters of Agros at the 6th Annual Rose Festival and we have ridden donkeys while dancing for peace with ‘Dance for Peace’ at the Buyukkonuk/Komi Kebir 10th Eco Day Festival.

We have so far interacted with many new people and received positive feedback from each of the locations we have visited, with one person from Buyukkonuk/Komi Kebir commenting: “this is an excellent project, but why are you not at every festival?” 🙂

During the design of Phase II of ENGAGE, it was decided the time had come to move away from the traditional Nicosia-based events and really engage with local communities and promote the work we do at a grass-roots level.

It is important to us that this phase of the project is much more inclusive and covers a wider scope of the island in terms of promoting active citizenship, civic engagement and reconciliation island-wide.

For this reason, the ENGAGE-On the Move campaign will see the team take part in a series of localised events over the course of the two-year project.

Next stop is the Dikmen/Dhikomo Festival – running from Friday June 22 from 7.30pm until Sunday June 24.

Here the ENGAGE-On the Move team will be distributing flyers and goodies, discussing how locals can get more involved with the project through our active citizenship campaign and through our Active Volunteer Engage Teams, and lobbying for the policy papers created via our Gender and Diversity-themed Active Dialogue Networks, with members of the network taking part to share their work and experiences.

ENGAGE has also ensured DrumInspire, the bicommunal folklore group Dance for Peace and the Bicommunal Choir will be on hand to entertain Dikmen/Dhikomo festival-goers.

If you would like further information on this event please contact ENGAGE’s Jale Canlibalik at jcanlibalik@mc-med.eu

And for further information as to where our next stop will be, feel free to check out our website or  email the team.

That’s all from ENGAGE at the moment; we look forward to seeing you this week in Dikmen/Dhikomo!

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Thanks Jale, sounds like there’s lots of good things to be shared, so do check out the links above for more information on the Dikmen/Dhikomo fest and beyond.

Join us again soon for more Peace it Together news, right here on the Peace Exchange. Until then, stay cool, remember to carry your sunblock and… see you in the next post!

You can read a Greek version of this post here, and a Turkish version here.

Peace – the writing’s on the wall

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Back in February, Peace Exchange had brought you a post announcing Peace it Together partner Youth Power‘s 2012 Small Grants Initiative.

(And if you missed that post, you can read it here :))

This week, our guest blogger is one of the grant winners, Petros Herakleous who was awarded support for his innovative project – Graffiti for Peace.

Take it away Petros!

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Graffiti is a type of art that always triggers my interest, mainly because of its rebellious nature.

Thus, since the time that I was still an MA student in the Department of Peace studies at Bradford University, I was wondering how the art of graffiti could be used in order to send message regarding the urgent need for peace in Cyprus.

This March, the Youth Power Small Grants gave me the opportunity to pitch a project in which graffiti would be the main activity.

More specifically: Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot youths, inspired by graffiti artists such as Banksy and Blek Le Rat, would send out a message for peace and reconciliation.

And this is how Graffiti for Peace was born.

Greek graffiti artist bleeps.gr in a statement regarding Graffiti for Peace noted: “Walls are something more than urban canvas. They are a potential information board, offering the possibility of analysis and the chance to put our thoughts and philosophical quests up for public display.”

In this way, the participants of Graffiti for Peace will have a chance to express their thoughts, feelings and perceptions on issues related with peace and the reconciliation process in Cyprus.

In my personal view, the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, have to realise they have a lot to gain by strengthening the peacebuilding process between the two communities.

Therefore, by using the universal language of art, Graffiti for Peace aims to aid the young people of both communities to send out their messages of hope and peace for the future of their country.

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Thanks for sharing that with us Petros. It just goes to show that any passion can become an agent for peacebuilding.

And by extension, all creativity and innovation can be a potential resource towards breaking down barriers and bringing diverse groups of people together towards a common goal.

Looking ahead then, we can expect bold designs challenging our perceptions about Cyprus reconciliation, coming to a wall, near you 🙂

That’s all for this time. Peace Exchange will be back with more good stuff soon.

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

You can read a Greek version of this post here, and a Turkish version here.

Knowledge and Innovation, the Cypriot way

This week, Peace Exchange hosts Mehmet Erdoğan and Ellada Evangelou, Knowledge and Innovation officers of the Peace it Together network (and, respectively, the lovely people to the right of each of the stylish frames above), who offered the following post after mapping past and present civil society peace efforts in Cyprus.

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Civil society in Cyprus, working for years on peacebuilding, is mostly tired. Most people have been at it for years, and quite a few of them have found out that hope can really wear you out. So many relationships blossom, develop and die out.  There are always obstacles to conquer, whether in the form of politics or politicians, challenging educational systems, families and communities, even our own personal preconceptions: and most times overcoming these obstacles is quite a difficult task.

Mostly.

Most times.

Most.

But not all.

And in that space, the margin where exceptions are found, as well as exceptional people and exceptional situations, that’s where knowledge and innovation lies in Cypriot civil society in 2012. In the process of “cherchez l’ espace” one realizes the amazing qualities of Cypriot civil society exceptionalism: the strength and vibrancy of its nature, the determination and captivating qualities of its people, the overwhelming expertise and experience accumulated and utilised in creative and open-hearted ways, the compassion and love for the people and the island.

Getting rid of the insecurity of being “one of some”, as opposed to the safety of “one of most” defines civil society work in Cyprus.   After that first defining leap, you must secure your position in order to move forward: embrace the past through knowing it and the future by anticipating it. In Cyprus, knowledge and experience about the past is invaluable, a basis and a strength. Mapping the civil society contribution to peacebuilding and reconciliation, through the individuals and groups who have worked on the Cyprus problem over the years is, therefore, crucial.

Understanding and managing lapsed time is a first step: Imagine that many civil society agents of the present were newborns while the first wave of pioneering work was carried out.  Generations of Cypriots have put their heart and soul into bringing divided communities on the island together – though they may have little interaction with each other now. What if the leaders of the past could become mentors to the young and motivated folk? What if the new generation of peace-oriented civil society activists could help the previous generation discover the new creative interventions practised?

These are two reasons we have been busy at work lately. What often seems a daunting and exhausting legacy of work to many, seems to us to hold a sea of potential.  We have rolled up our sleeves and have sipped countless coffees during interviews with civil society representatives.  We have got to know their work: their dreams and joys. How they failed when they failed. Their contributions, reports, books, films, youth camps… Hours, months, years spent, bringing ordinary people together, in the most extraordinary of ways and circumstances.  These are people who know that no matter what happens in the political sphere, turning back is not an option, that idleness (even if that is of the mind) has disappeared from their scope of possibilities.

We are enjoying getting to know them, it is a rare pleasure to sit around hearing stories, pieces of the puzzle that make up your history. And then piecing Cypriot (civil society) history, together.

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Humbling and inspiring thoughts – thank you Mehmet and Ellada.

We hope you’ll join Peace Exchange for more good stuff, coming soon.

Have a great week and… see you in the next post!

A Greek version of this post may be found here, and a Turkish version here.

Tools and strategies for the work ahead

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The good folks at the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) recently completed a particularly busy week, equipping attendees of two key workshops – electronic newsletter creation and online activism – with the training to maximise their outreach and mobilise their stakeholders.

The first workshop focused on introducing participants – a mixture of NGO representatives, Peace it Together project partners and social activists – to the free online platform MailChimp, which allows users to design email newsletters, share them on social networks and track their results.

Attendees were led through a series of exercises to make the most of MailChimp’s wide array of pre-designed and customisable newsletter templates.

Tips and hints to remember in particular were:

  • To be meticulous in compiling the newsletter’s list. Far better to have fewer contacts who are genuinely interested in the content than a massive list of folks who are, at best, apathetic about what you’re sharing, or, at worst, likely to resent the intrusion into their already-overloaded inbox
  • To make subject lines catchy, so the target reader is more tempted to open the emailed newsletter
  • To make content attractive with hyperlinks and lots of bold visuals
  • To make content succinct and easily scanable
  • To ensure newsletters really contain ‘news’ – and if there isn’t enough newsworthy material to share, to consider delaying sending out the newsletter until there is – or simply adopt a less frequent emailing cycle

After an overview of the range of social media tools available, the second workshop exposed participants to both online and offline strategies for activism, with case studies compiled from the regional players in the Arab Spring, as well as Cyprus.

Among the steps in digital activism outlined by the workshop, were:

  • Documenting: digital content creation – text, audio, video
  • Mobilising: information sharing with a call to action
  • Synthesising: aggregation and combining of content

The workshop stressed that activism was more than simply posting a link on Facebook or Twitter, or ‘liking’ the content of a site, and that the internet was just the starting point for coming together to create change.

Ultimately,  focusing on the technologies people were already using was what was rewarded by outreach and mobilisation, rather than utilising tools whose function was unlikely to reach target stakeholders.

“People living in Cyprus are very active online and already use tools of online activism without the methodology of affecting social change,” noted CCMC’s Beran Djemal.

“This workshop helped to convert the tools into strategic action, and helped Cypriot activists better position themselves in the regional context using best practices from other online activism initiatives around the world.”

Attendee Sophia Arnaouti, from Cyprus Islandwide NGO Development Platform (CYINDEP) and Peace Centre agreed. “The workshop really built our capacity even more to be able to campaign in a dynamic way,” she said.

So much to take in, but well worth the effort – thanks CCMC!

That’s all for this time but, as always, stay tuned and we’ll see you in the next post.

You can read a Greek version of this post here and a Turkish version here.