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Relationships Across the Border: An Inside Look


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


Introducing: A Digital Space for Peace

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?

Mapping the Peace Process… Easier said than done!


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.”

Rahme Veziroglu

Mapping Consultant for ‘Peace-It-Together’ and Knowledge Innovation Product / Team Facilitator

Global Innovations on Technology and Peace Building: Training Retreat


The Peace it Together officers, get together in Kakopetria, to discuss the upcoming Knowledge Hub

When I was invited to take part in the workshop “global innovations on technology and peace building” that was to be facilitated by Michaela Ledesma and my friend Helena Puig Larrauri, my excitement was not just that I would get to see Helena in action again as I had enjoyed working alongside her so much at the Power of One conference in 2012, but also that I would have the opportunity to be a participant rather than a facilitator. A rare treat for me.

From the outset I knew this was destined to be an experience I would enjoy as I had a fabulous catch up with another great friend on the journey up to kakopetria village. As we arrived in the village, snow began to fall and settle, and as we took the short walk from the coach stop to the hotel, we were all lightly dusted in white promise. The raging fire in the corner welcomed us as my techno savvy fellow participants frantically pulled out i-pads, phones, laptops and every other wifi receiving device in order to catch up on what they had missed during the drive up. I thought about it, for a moment at least, and decided against it, sometimes I like a break from the shiny silent square face that can tell me what is happening around me in real time, either in pictures or words. When I checked into my room I had to smile as I saw it as a reflection of the challenge we had set ourselves for the next day. My room had a wonderful dated four poster bed, a classic (in working order) 1950’s radio, complete with analogue dial, yellowish flickering light when turned on, and authentic crackling in the background. The amazingly warm modern under floor heating kept the snow chill at bay as I watched the news on the wall mounted TFT. The traditional bed and radio happily fitting in with the modern tv and heating.

And this is how I saw the workshop that was offered to us. We were given the opportunity to see ourselves, our products and our histories easily combined with the world of crowd sourcing, gapfinders, quizlets, insightshares and city changers to name just some of the floated ideas. The facilitators smiled and cheered us on as we changed location three times till we finally settled in a corner of the hotel restaurant that had intermittent wired access to the internet for one laptop only, so that the totally high tech and internet based workshop could be delivered in the traditional surroundings of quaint dated restaurant, complete with checked tablecloths and Cypriot straw seated chairs. Intriguingly, even as we were offered such a volume of information the absorption was made palatable by the sound-bite size snippets Helena and Michaela offered. There was always just enough information there to get the interest going so you could make the connection between the presented idea and the project in your mind.

As the afternoon sun melted the snow, we worked on the links between the components of the hub, the content of the hub, the potential user base, the interest, the maintenance, the look, the potential challenges and the dreams we could include. Having generated so much data I left satisfied that progress was made. However, I wondered on the journey home how and who would work on the mountain of ideas and information we had collectively pulled together. Some ideas made the hub more tangible in my mind, as I could start to see not only its use as repository but also as a live hub of activity, while some ideas were technically beyond me. In the end I knew, with Mehmet and Ellada in the mix, the hub will continue to be viable and grow.

Sylvie Mantis – Knowledge Innovation Product / Team Facilitator

Watch this space for an upcoming briefing on what the new Knowledge Hub is going to be all about!

Knowledge and Innovation Fund Projects Under way: Getting to know the New Face of the Peace Process

Cyprus civil society has truly stepped up!

The Knowledge and Innovation Fund of the Peace it Together network was developed to offer new perspective and approaches to peacebuilding. By its very nature it encouraged people who are active in peacebuilding either voluntarily or professionally to think entirely outside the box and develop new and innovative ideas to promote peace and reconciliation, to enhance dialogue and to build bridges. The creativity showcased in the ideas that have poured in were a pleasant and welcome surprise to us also! We wanted to invite you to take a look at what is in store by Spring 2013.

The Fund accepted 29 proposals in its first phase, with a total of nine proposals making it to the second phase. Between seven to nine knowledge products will be finally implemented. Among them are these incredible ideas:

An Online Game on the city of Nicosia, implemented by the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research. The game features a unified Nicosia. Children and adults will be able to play it and learn about the rich history and culture of the city.

An online Video Toolkit based on the manual “The Anatomy of Peace”, implemented by the Peace Players International (Cyprus) and the Cyprus Community Media Center.

An interactive and digital, social & cultural map of Dip Karpaz/Rizokarpaso village, based on architectural and anthropological data, implemented by Archis Interventions (Cyprus).

An interactive documentary entitled “The Thin Green Line”, exploring romantic and sexual relationships across the Green Line, and looking into the personal aspect of transformation, implemented by Longfish Company.

An interactive video Webinar on the collaboration model of NGOs in post-conflict societies that come from different sides of divides, implemented by the NGO-SC and the Management Center of the Mediterranean.

An interactive crowdsourcing map that curates videos produced by mediators and trainers around the world, implemented by the Mediation Association and the Bicommunal Trainers Group.

We would like to invite you to follow the progress and development of the chosen knowledge products on the program website (, our Facebook page and Twitter (@KI4PiT).

And please TELL US WHAT YOU THINK! How do you feel about these innovative approaches to peacebuilding? Join the conversation at #innovationcy !

Innovation, development, and why you should drink coffee

 “This was not just about sharing best practices and networking, it was a chance to come up with new ideas for action.” Read this fantastic blog post from one of the ‘Power of One’ facilitators, Helena Puig Larrauri, with her perspectives on how the Power of One conference (9-11 October 2012) came about and the thinking behind its innovative approach to networking, facilitation, and development.


Launch of the Souk – Power of One Conference 9 October 2012

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