How do you put half a century’s worth of peace and reconciliation efforts into an excel sheet? You don’t. You sweat and stress and visualize it, and get “ridiculously enthusiastic” throughout the process. That’s how this team gets it done.
“When Florin and I were first appointed as the ‘Mapping Consultants’ for the development of the Peace Map, we somehow knew we were about to experience something quite challenging and inspiring. Both having an academic background in social sciences and research, it was enough for us to be utterly and almost ridiculously enthusiastic once we started getting our hands on databases, conducting interviews, scanning archives, setting categories, comparing and contrasting, making sense of data and analyzing. The truth is we are often called ‘nerds’ by our team members…
We began with collecting and archiving all the projects, organizations and initiatives that contributed to the reconciliation process since the 1980s. Unfortunately though, the sources documenting Cypriot civil society initiatives are scarce, and for that reason we were concerned about how representative our database was going to be. In order to overcome this barrier we tried to get our hands on local and international databases, reports, and articles and also interviewed several key stakeholders to counterbalance our reliance on written material. As part of the Peace it Together Knowledge and Innovation Team, we envisioned the Peace Map to be an interactive tool. Upon its launch, it will be possible for stakeholders to improve the Map. But being the perfectionists we are, it has been an anxious ride from the very beginning as we knew that it is would not possible to document everything. Luckily enough, we found comfort in our mutual anxiety.
Florin worked miracles with his impressive skills in organizing the data. For those who don’t know yet, there is a phenomenon called “Florin colours”. When we decided on our categories and variables, in minutes those variables turned into a beautiful colour scheme, making our lives so much easier. Excel can be boring, but not if you have Florin as your colleague. Upon finalizing the database, it was then time to make sense of our data. We dived into the ever so mesmerizing world of infographics to experiment a little bit. Our data was now telling a story in different sized bubbles and in appealing colours, revealing trends about the work of Cypriot civil society that we had not been able to predict. This was just a little glimpse into the potential of the Peace Map in terms of innovation and creativity and more is sure to come.
There are some basic principles in our vision of the Peace Map. It will tell the story of the peace and reconciliation process in an easily accessible, understandable and innovative form. It will be a tool for research as well as a platform for further action. Our vision flourished and became a strategy after spending an intensely inspiring retreat day at the beautiful village of Kakopetria with the team. It was perfect timing. We are now ridiculously enthusiastic again and are discovering more and more critical moments within the timeline of the reconciliation process in Cyprus. We are also looking forward to having the IT crew on board to brainstorm even more ways of visualizing our research.
At last our hard work is starting to take shape and we can rest assured knowing that this research really will reach people. And make a difference.”
Mapping Consultant for ‘Peace-It-Together’ and Knowledge Innovation Product / Team Facilitator