Exploring our capacities for peace
We often think of peace in the abstract — peace as the absence of war or conflict. What if we examine peace through a personal lens?
Creators of Peace (CoP) started in 1991 as a women’s initiative to empower women to create peace at every level of society, starting with themselves, using the 'Peace Circle' as their main tool. CoP Circles all over the world are challenging women to:
- share responsibility for their part in the perpetration of conflict and in its resolution;
- break the chains of hate and revenge;
- build networks of forgiveness and friendship across racial, religious and social divides; and
- engage in creating peace at every level of society.
‘One of the most significant learnings was how much healing can happen…How much space we need to give ourselves, our healing and our growth...and how little we often do.’
- Shannon Ormiston, VIC
What is a Peace Circle?
Creators of Peace Circles take place as a series of meetings led by two trained facilitators, who invite participants to explore several different themes around the broader concept of peace. Within the circle, each person puts her mind to the task of dissecting ‘what peace means to me.’ Participants practice deep and analytical thinking in a supportive group setting where everyone practices active listening while sharing their unique yet unifying stories.
In the context of COVID-19 some states have moved to Zoom for their Creators of Peace Circles, with participants meeting online during a seven week period, gathering once a week for two hours. The traditional timeframe for a Creators of Peace Circle is a physical gathering of two and a half days split over a week.
With the help of facilitators, groups work through a specially-designed curriculum built around a series of ‘gathering points’ or conversation-starters, designed to encourage honest and open sharing of their experiences, beliefs and values.
Feedback from Creators of Peace Circles has shown that participants have felt empowered, gained confidence in self-expression, and developed a shared understanding of the human experience.
‘…the stories spark transformation in ourselves and others...an experience that creates deeper insights into how we share many more commonalities than differences. I forgave my mum.’
- Anvita Bisaria, VIC
Working in schools
IofC Australia is currently partnering with the Southern Migrant & Refugee Centre (SMRC) in Dandenong, Victoria, to bring Peace Circles to women in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs. The project works with women and young people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, new migrants, and refugees, to offer conversations, experiential activities, circles and other events that build friendships, connection and social cohesion. This work includes working with students in a high-school setting. The work is supported by a two-year grant of $120,000 from the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) for joint delivery by IofC Australia and the SMRC.
‘Through Peace Circles, SMRC in partnership with IofC Australia helps participants to recognize and give themselves permission to feel peace in their current journey, allowing them to rebuild their lives with dignity.’
- Maryam Mohammadi, Coordinator, Creators of Peace South East
How can I take part in a Peace Circle?
Creators of Peace Circles are held in over 40 countries worldwide. Circles have taken place in Bougainville, Burundi, Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, New Zealand, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
For news and information about the international network of Creators of Peace, please visit the international website.
Register here to receive news and information about Creators of Peace happenings in your area.