A participant of the 2017 Mexico Positive Peace workshop has gone on to create peace in her local community in a creative way.
In May 2017, I was selected to participate in the forum – A Stronger Mexico: Pillars of Positive Peace. The workshops and conferences provided at the forum allowed me to acquire new skills and expertise related to the theme of Positive Peace. Even though I had already spent several years working on social projects as part of one of the biggest service organisations in the world, attending this event marked a “before” and “after” for me in terms of my vision of Positive Peace and how I can contribute to create change.
I am a part of Rotaract, a Rotary International program for young people aged 18 to 31 years-old. Even though one of the areas of focus of Rotary is “Peace and conflict prevention / resolution,” I always thought that this theme of peace was focused uniquely on governments and world leaders who make influential policy decisions. I now understand that the act of meeting a population’s needs, in one way or another, is a practice that promotes peace – everything relates back to peace and we cannot think in a comprehensive global picture without taking this into account.
This forum took place in the city of Puebla on the grounds of the University of the Americas – Puebla and was organised by the Institute for Economics and Peace and Rotary International. Over the course of two days, I participated in general workshops on the theme of Positive Peace and elected to participate in a participatory workshop centered around one of the Pillars of Positive Peace: Good Relations with Neighbors. At first, this pillar didn’t really stand out to me, but over the course of the workshop I learned how generating peace starts at a micro level and expands to a global level.
At the event, I met people from all over the country: activists, entrepreneurs, people who are working through various channels to help generate better conditions in Mexico. The workshops provided at the Positive Peace forum were of a very high quality – they motivated me to continue on this path. I learned new concepts and skills, as well as how to put these concepts and skills into practice in my current and future projects.
I developed the idea for Peace Murals as a component of this public space project on the basis that this type of artistic initiative would help to open minds, develop resiliency, promote leadership, and bring about other benefits.
Beyond incorporating murals with peace-related messaging to rescued public spaces, this initiative has brought together community members, other organisations, and local artists. Today we have rescued more than 15 public spaces and created 10 Peace Murals across the city. We have seen that despite initially finding these spaces completely vandalised and abandoned, after we have carried out our work, the spaces and the Peace Murals remain in excellent condition.
Based on the excellent results we’ve seen, we have decided to take the project to another level. For the next phase of Peace Murals, we plan to involve more community members, specifically young people living in dangerous zones of the city. We have plans to offer workshops on various themes including art, entrepreneurship, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution in schools located in these zones of the city. Our aim is to equip young people with tools to become agents of change – whether through social entrepreneurship or channeling artistic energy into Peace Murals. We are still in planning stages for this next step, but I’m confident that collaborative work will lead to excellent results.
Translation by Nicola Coakley of True Roots International – providing impact evaluation coordination for the workshop.