Monthly Archives: February 2013

Naming the Peace-it-Together Online Hub: Open Call for votes

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As you probably already know, a new digital online platform mapping the peace-building efforts in Cyprus since the 1970s is currently being developed by the Peace-it-Together network and UNDP-ACT and is being implemented by the NGO Support Centre and the Management Centre. The platform will also include  peace and reconciliation products as well as practical resources and networking tools  for local and international practitioners, civil servants and people throughout the region that want to take action for positive change. Now, the Peace-it-Together network needs your help to give it a name through an online vote open to the public today.

The Peace-it-Together team vision has always been incredibly large and driven by innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. During the past two weeks the team has exchanged ideas as to the naming and effective branding of the online hub that has been developing over the past few months. A finalized version will be launched online at the beginning of this summer.

Please click here to vote on one of the five short-listed suggestions for the name you feel best describes the efforts undertaken by the Peace-it-Together network. The name which gains the most votes by the 1st of March will also be translated into a domain name and brand the culmination of all Peace-it-Together efforts.

The five suggested names are: CohesionLab, Mahallae, InnovEX, Social Cohesion Lab, ExchangeLab. The polling process will be launched from the 19th of February till the 1st of March. More information about the project as well as links to the poll can be found on the Peace-it-Together network facebook page, twitter and blog.

For the Press: >> Peace-it-Together is a network of Civil Society Organisations working together to create a sustainable platform to support the efforts of Cypriot civil society in peace building and reconciliation. The network is implemented by the NGO-Support Centre and the Management Centre and supported by UNDP-ACT. The network is comprised of committed civil society partners that have worked on peace building over the past decade and who have become the principle drivers for moving the reconciliation agenda forward in Cyprus.

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Language Knows No Boundaries

ImageFinding common ground through ‘shared words’.
One of the Knowledge and Innovation Fund winning projects, SharedWords is aiming to motivate the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to focus on their similarities through language. In their research they found that both languages share a numerous amount of words and highlighting this may start making both communities feel more familiar with each other. Go team!

“Discovery of common words and common traditions of different nations is an exciting experience and solid proof of common values of humanity. In spite of the national and religious politics that focus on and influence the differences and interests among different nations, we can start to focus on our similar traditions, similar cultures and similar words in order to find common ground.

Sharedwords is not only a social project, it is a language learning tool and a methodology to change the point of view of language learners and break the prejudice of “foreign language” since it focuses on  similar words of different languages to make language learners feel familiar to the languages that they want to progress in. Sharedwords promotes the common elements of languages, which we find to be the most effective way to shift from one language to another for adequate communication.

Sharedwords is also a philosophy and a point of view for peace building that can be applied to different conflict areas. And we are so happy to see and practice the philosophy of Sharedwords in reality in Cyprus. On the 30th of January at the Home for Cooperation we had a fruitful meeting with Eleni Michailidou, the representative of Cyprus Interaction Lab, Ellada Evangelou, Knowledge and Innovation Officer of the Peace-it-Together Network, and Sylvie Manti, Project Development Consultant of the Peace-it-Together Network. We were happy to see that we were well on the way of creating the online language game which we had envisioned to be the final fruit of our knowledge product project.

The online language game will be based on the common words of Turkish and Greek, such as:

Muhallebi Μαχαλλεπίν
Köfte Κεφτές
Pehlivan Πεχλιβάνης

For example, during the Turkish version of the game, pictures or pronunciations of specific words will be given as hints for Greek learners and they will be expected to form the Greek version of the word by dragging and dropping correct Greek letters in the correct sequence. It is a really effective way to establish a strong bond between the language and the learner with the words that they already know. Please find us on facebook and twitter to find out more about our project!”

Testimonial written by: Nuri Sılay / member of the SharedWords team

Relationships Across the Border: An Inside Look

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What happens when you try to get people to talk about their relationships with people across the buffer zone in order to produce a docudrama that presents the truth behind romance regardless of nationality, religion, gender or sexual orientation? LongFish Productions took on an incredibly challenging project that is being supported by the Knowledge and Innovation Fund. Find out more about it here.

“When I first came up with the idea of the Thin Green Line project I had no idea how challenging such a project was going to be.

In the last days of 2012 the guys from Peace-it-Together gave me the good news. I called my team: “At last we have some petrol in the tank! Let’s start the engines. We are heading to the thin green line!” 

And so we met with Sylvie, our consultant from PiT, in order to set some milestones! Sylvie, an amazing and inspiring personality, seemed so passionate about our project. Our meeting was extremely productive; we exchanged ideas, she gave me advice, contacts, but most of all positive energy, so important for such a challenging project.

Next stop was the CyBC archive. The people there were very friendly and helpful. Following an informal meeting in October I was asked to send an official letter that would specify the kind of footage I am looking for. I prepared it immediately and by January 5th I was glad enough to receive the precious DVD with unedited footage from reportages and news reports from events (demonstrations, conflicts, etc.) that happened within the buffer zone in the last 30 years. 

At the same time, my colleagues and I have been in constant contact with people that were involved in relationships with people from the other side of the buffer zone and have been trying to negotiate their participation in the documentary. This has been the hardest and most challenging part of the project so far. We have often found ourselves before closed doors, unanswered emails, facebook messages, phone calls… Whereas when I first introduced the topic to some of these people (or their friends) everyone was so excited and willing to help, suddenly we came across vast barriers…

I know, I understand… These things are too personal, too sensitive, the whole matter very controversial, even polemical for a closed society like the Cypriot one, where people have learned for hundreds of years now to shadow their desires and wills within a conspiracy of silence. However, what if we could break this conspiracy of silence? What if we young people could make a difference and speak up in the face of those who wish to oppress our desires and foreclose our chances for peace? 

Works of art have always been active and prominent within any discourse that foregrounds change. This documentary aspires to be such a work of art. We have agreed so far with three Greek-Cypriots to share their stories with us and have them retold or acted out by models/actors. We have also contacted some actors who are willing to do this job. In the following two weeks we expect to have a few answers from Turkish- Cypriots subjects and actors, as well, and meet with them, so that we can actually move to the production stage of the project. 

One way or another, we are optimistic that these stories will eventually come to the surface, bringing all the energy and passion that is needed to make people rethink not only about their past but most of all about our future.” 

Marios Psarras – Longfish Productions

What is your SCORE?

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Measuring and monitoring changes in communities’ capacities for Social Cohesion and Reconciliation, sounds like a job for superman. However in Cyprus, we have SeeD. And they are creating an innovative statistical tool entitled ‘Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) Index’.
Administrations and Communications officer Meltem Ikinci tells us all about it.

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There is no handy roadmap for reconciliation. There is no short cut or simple prescription for healing the wounds and divisions of a society in the aftermath of sustained violence, says Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of the most inspirational figures in human history.

Yes, there may not be a handy roadmap, but we can show you the way for a peaceful living together with the ‘others’.  But, what does ‘peaceful’ mean?  Obviously, it brings up a lot of different images and meanings for all of us. In my case, being peaceful means a lot more than being non-violent; it involves taking positive action in a way that would lead to constructive change in society.

In Cyprus, the conflict has remained in a frozen limbo for more than 4 decades. Despite countless efforts, all have thus far failed to resolve the problem. As a matter of fact, one might say the economic crisis and the overwhelming budget-cuts might have become the new Cyprus problem. But the reality of the past is still there and yet remains unspoken.

Even if you face the most terrible truth, it is not the end. It is up to us to choose what to forget and what to recall from our experiences” said Dr. Naasson Munyandamutsa, who was one of the key note speakers at the Peace and Reconciliation Conference that we organized in September 2012. Dr. Naasson, who lost most of his family members during the genocide in Rwanda, highlighted that forgiveness is the key answer to heal the wounds of the past.  His remarkable speech made me think – once again – that there has not been any significant discussion or any formal acknowledgement of the ‘reconciliation’ itself on both sides of the island until today.

Identifying this need, we, as “Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development” (the former Cyprus 2015 initiative), are currently working on developing an index called “Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) Index. The SCORE Index is an innovative statistical tool that can measure and monitor over time changes in communities’ capacities for Social Cohesion and Reconciliation. Essentially, it will be a “barometer” allowing users to determine in which direction society is moving along the “Reconciliation spectrum”. One has to admit that these terminologies may sound slightly overwhelming at first, but this will not be the case with the SCORE index.

The SCORE will be designed in a user-friendly interface, using a simple colour scale of 1 to 10, upon to draw scores of examining how social factors interact with and influence the process of social cohesion and reconciliation. The results will be easily interpreted by the general public and practitioners, fulfilling the goal of supporting more targeted and efficient  policy actions to deal with the ‘sensitive issues’.

This interface will soon be easily accessible through the “Peace it Together” knowledge hub, a digital space where you will be able to read more on the analysis of the state of peace in Cyprus and the region, measured by the SCORE Index. This interactive tool will also enable you to take a quick survey that scores your personal contribution to peace. Well, (either good or bad)… the results can be really surprising! So, wait until the platform is ready and find out… “WHATS YOUR SCORE?”
In the meantime, to get a better idea of the SCORE Index please look at SeeD’s presentation on Prezi: SCORE: Prezi Presentation.

Watch this space for more updates!

Written by: Meltem IkinciAdministration & Communications Officer, SeeD

Who are we?

We are the first inter-communal think tank called “Center for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development” (SeeD) ever established in Cyprus. By using participatory research, we develop effective and sustainable policy recommendations aiming to enable societies at all levels to make informed decisions, based on the values of inclusivity, accountability and democracy.

How did we come about?

SeeD emerged from the “Cyprus 2015” project which was launched back in May 2009.  Through its novel methodology called ‘Participatory Polling’, “Cyprus 2015” has made effective and sustainable policy recommendations and informed the policy debate regarding the Cyprus Peace talks while ensuring democratic citizenship participation based on values of inclusive action and democracy. With support from Interpeace and UNDP-ACT, SeeD was officially registered in Belgium in late 2012. SeeD team is comprised of highly competent practitioners and scholars with years of combined experience in peace-building and reconciliation processes.

Introducing: A Digital Space for Peace

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Ever wondered what you can do for a better future in Cyprus and beyond? The Peace it Together network and UNDP-ACT, led byimplementing partners the Management Centre and NGO Support Centre, are creating a space for everyone to find out: a digital headquarters for civil society to promote peace and social cohesion.

 The vision

In essence, it will be a meeting space for people who want to take action for positive change, offering practical resources, networking tools and way to share past experience. The objective of this space is both to support people who are working on social cohesion, reconciliation and peace already and to motivate new actors. It may be difficult to imagine, but the space will come to life over the coming months, and is expected to launch in June of this year.

In the meantime, let’s go for a walk through what we have so far of this digital space…

Home page: honoring Cypriot experience

The space will open with a page that shows a picture of all the reconciliation and social cohesion initiatives – think trainings, advocacy, diplomacy, dialogue, art exhibitions, and public events, among others – carried out in Cyprus since the 1970s. Critical moments when something important changed will be highlighted, and you will be able to read or watch more about these moments. This will be a living story of peacebuilding and civil society development in Cyprus, and anyone will be able to contribute with new or missing efforts.

Three main spaces will also appear on the home page: power of one, interactive tools and measuring peace.

Power of One: networking and collaboration

This will be a networking and collaboration space for civil society organizations in Cyprus and the region that will include a roster of experts and a toolkit for online project formulation and collaboration.

Interactive tools: using technology for peace

This will be a space for sharing interactive peacebuilding products that everyone can put to use to foster reconciliation and social cohesion. It will initially host products developed by Cypriot civil society, including children’s online games, interactive documentaries and digital learning tools.

Measuring peace: for experts, for everyone

In this area, you will be able to find summaries and analysis of the state of peace in Cyprus and the region, measured using the Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Index developed by a Cypriot think tank. You will also be invited to take a quick survey that scores your personal contribution to peace.

Peace in Cyprus, and beyond

Taken as a whole, these elements bring together all the dimensions of action that have contributed to the story of social cohesion and reconciliation in Cyprus. This story goes much beyond Cyprus, and makes clear the potential for this digital space to catalyze future innovation for peacebuilding in the region. It’s a big vision, and one that we look forward to championing with you.

Want to learn more?