The power of creativity, conflict resolution, and building peace

There are some inspiring charities out there doing some amazing work with conflict resolution and helping to aid peace, and discussion around the world. One of our clients, Conciliation Resources, has been working since 2006 to support a unique bridge-building project which involves young Azeris and Karabakh Armenians. Their project, ‘Dialogue Through Film’ gives young people the opportunity to learn new film-making skills and to work together, to make short documentaries reflecting the realities of their everyday lives.

To date, they have made over 30 films, which are screened monthly in a range of venues to tell stories of life, love, laughter and loss in communities affected by the war. Watching these films can be a very emotional and challenging experience for the local people, in the 17 years since the war ended there’s been very little contact between the opposing sides. But by attending joint training courses and watching their films together, they have been able to talk through emotions and difficult issues, and start to build professional relationships and sometimes friendships.

“Thanks to these films we can find out about the fears of people living on the other side of the conflict, and hear what they think about us,” says Anahit Danielyan, of the Stepankert Press Club, one of the screening moderators in Nagorny Karabakh.

And the idea of using creativity to inspire peace doesn’t stop there, it is also working on home turf. I was reading about a really interesting Social enterprise, called New Day Foundation (NDF), which formed last year. After ten years of trouble and fighting, they have decided to focus on a more positive, and peaceful future for their local community. As a result, they are running a competition-based campaign called the ‘Peace Mix’ challenge where they’re calling upon ‘bedroom-based’ MCs, vocal divas, mix-masters and wannabe rappers to show off their skills and what they can do by contributing to an ‘online mash-up track’ to help promote peace among young people.

The Peace Mix challenge gives young people a chance to (re)think, and reflect about what peace means, and provides the opportunity for them to have a voice and opinion in society through music. This can then be communicated through their self-produced music, beats or lyrics.

The winners of the competition will be invited to a star-studded event to reveal the chosen ‘peace anthem’ at London’s Roundhouse on 28 August. The final track will be officially available to download on International Peace Day, 21 September, 2012. The campaign has also gained support from the Brighton-based collective, Rizzle Kicks, “Peace Mix is a wicked project. Every young person should be able to explore their musical talents, whatever their background. We want to see the UK’s newest talents coming through so get involved!”

Sharif Cousins, of NDF said: “NDF are a collective of people who share a vision to change our community for the better and put young people on a positive path. We’ve spent the last year negotiating with at-risk young people across Birmingham to prevent trouble. We’re very excited to be part of Peace Mix and to be promoting the studios and facilities as a way of uniting young people and giving them access to new opportunities.”

What both of these initiatives (and others) are doing so well, is using creatively and creative expression to build understanding and repair communities. But also not forgetting to be inclusive, inspiring and having the balls to create ‘those conversations’ and then focusing on the future of local peace, or even world peace, rather than dwelling on past issues.

Image © Tinchy Stryder performs during the Peace Mix Presents event at the Roundhouse in Camden, London. Photo credit: John Phillips/PA