Finding “The Power of One” in the Voices of Many

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This week, Knowledge and Innovation officers of the Peace it Together network Mehmet Erdoğan and Ellada Evangelou offer some thoughts regarding the idea behind the title of the conference, “The Power of 1.”

Conflict is messy, loud and chaotic. Passions and vices run high, people are afraid, shouts, cries and screams are the predominant sounds. There is nothing organised or individualised about it. The polyphony, or rather the cacophony, of conflict is disarming. The possibility for an individual to exist in a heated situation and maintain themselves in the context of reason and sobriety is slim.

As the urgency of the conflict dies out, the most somber of minds come out, slowly peeking from their doorways as if after a tornado, to see whose spirit has remained standing.  They peek to see who can pick up their scattered ideas, their crumbled enthusiasm and their battered voice in order to start rebuilding. They witness those who increase their reluctant pace with time, recollecting Eleanor Roosevelt’s words, that standing as an individual is not only a right, but an obligation.

The margin of potential for one voice, one singular energy to penetrate, or even infiltrate into conflict and the post-conflict period has become the reasoning behind the Inter-regional conference to be held in Nicosia in October 9-11th, 2012, entitled The Power of One.

The host city itself has been the site of both deafening noise and crippling silence during the last decades. Its inhabitants have (been) moved around, its houses pierced with bullets and its quarters parted with barbed wire. The old city does look like a tornado-hit site in many of its corners.  It has been master-planned, macro-examined and micro-analyzed. But it hasn’t been abandoned. A handful of dedicated, committed individuals and organizations work together every day in order to ensure the city lives on.

The Power of One is demonstrated in many local stories, should one look even slightly beneath the surface. Take for example the story of the three young photographers who decided to live the city. They went around, saw, heard and smelled it. They took pictures of what they saw. Without concern for funding or access to a physical location, they began, slowly, to upload these pictures, one by one, on social media. Documenting, from the perspective of a regular person, the abandoned, the heartbreaking, the personal, the absurd. Then this went viral. Now there’s an exhibition of their work in one of the neighborhoods they happened to photograph.  And people are coming in groups to watch it, and a conversation has started. Each new spectator, each perspective reinvents the city and negotiates the telling of history of the city offered by the images. Curating a shared narrative, a shared history. The city is coming to life through the empowered gaze of three young people.

How do you talk about that? The fearlessness? The disregard for the lack of precedence? The unapologetic magnitude of honesty?

This is not a unique occurrence. Young people all over the world are using the freedom and convenience offered by technology and social media to speak up. With a specific pillar dedicated to community voice and representation, the Power of One 2012 is setting up a framework specifically fitting for such stories, and many more like them from Europe and the Middle East.

Click here for the Old Nicosia Revealed Facebook Group.

Click here for the Power of One conference website.


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