Partner Conference: Empowering Non-Violence in Times of Crisis

From October 9 to 14, 2022, 16 people from 10 international partner projects came together for a conference at Lidice Haus in Bremen. Together with the participants of the schwelle Foundation, about 25 people worked on the topic "Empowering Non-Violence in Times of Crisis".

An essential goal of the conference was the international networking of small grassroots organizations that work locally, often isolated and against the social mainstream. This conference was intended to encourage the people in the projects in their work. In addition, it was intended to provide a framework in which pressing current issues and problems could be discussed.

The content of the meeting started with a session that brought the multi-layered approaches to nonviolence in the different contexts of the projects into discussion with each other. The "Open Space" method opened the space for all participants to articulate their questions and challenges on the topic such as:

"How can we talk about peace during the war in Ukraine?", "Is peace work unfashionable?" "Is nonviolence always the right way?", "Meeting challenges with stories of hope", "Conflicts in the social environment", Mistreatment of refugees", "Language in times of war and crises", "The relationship between activism and violence", "Being mindful of ourselves", "Sustainability", "Campaign work", and many more.

The exchange among each other resulted in sometimes quite concrete agreements for joint actions: Stories of hope of successful projects to share with each other, joint actions to be carried out on the international day of peace, September 21, further meetings of specific target groups and on topics that are importand, possibly also by video conference, different forms of mutual support.

A first step has already been taken. Young volunteers who support people on the move in Bosnia on the border with Croatia, went to the Peace Farm of our partner project CIM, the Center for Peacebuilding in Bosnia, to spend a retreat weekend, but also to get to know Bosnian peace work.

The meeting was not only inward-looking. For example, we were welcomed in Bremen's city hall by the head of the department for international relations for a very fruitful exchange. On an "evening of encounter" we invited people from Bremen's civil society, from associations and other interested people to discuss with the international guests. About 40 interested people came and very stimulating and exciting conversations and encounters took place. Through the format of the "world café" (tables where the international guests stood and were ready for conversations), the invited people could talk to the representatives of the different projects about the situation in their countries and their work. The feedback we received about the evening was consistently positive.

All participants were very impressed by the intensity of the exchange of ideas. The conversations with peace activists who are committed to nonviolence under very different conditions were enriching and encouraging.

Project Partners

The schwelle Foundation accompanies and supports long-term local projects in its peace work.



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