There is much angst, anger, and despair in the world, as reflected in the news every day. There are also examples of hope, joy, and gratitude, however, these examples are not widely shared. It is said that “energy flows where attention goes.” For the culture of peace to emerge from the seeming chaos of today’s world, it is important that we help shift our national mood from fear and despair about rampant violence and injustices to one of security and hope through an intentional focus on the peace and peacebuilding that is not only possible but already manifesting. The National Peace Academy helps to elevate and shift focus to these positive peace practices already occurring by raising awareness about existing examples, highlighting the successes and lessons of each, and drawing forth the positive peace stories that exist in mainstream media.
NPA shines a spotlight in a variety of arenas, including:
- Peacebuilding at Work. There are myriad people and programs at work in areas that, while not traditionally considered “peace” by standard concepts of the word, do model and promote cultures of right relationship in one or more of the Five Spheres of Peace. A few examples include work in and for issues of: climate change and ecological sustainability; violence-reduction (school, gang, drug-related, domestic abuse); hunger, and homelessness; prison reform; mental health; gun safety; race relations; education reform; and so many others.
- Culture of Peace Manifest. As one might imagine, with so much good work being done, many peace practices and policies have already led to, manifested, and continue to support the culture of right relationship. In this way, NPA helps the general public see what peace looks like, that it is already here, and that it can be done and only needs expansion. A few examples include:
- The community-wide network of peacebuilding relationships in Gainesville, Florida
- Local participatory democracy processes being implemented across the USA
- Restorative circles that are reducing school suspensions and prison recidivism
- Local communities exercising the sharing economy and collaborative commons.
- Sharing Resources. There is a large body of resources, experiences, and lessons learned already in the field that don’t need to be reinvented. NPA identifies and catalogues these learnings, brings them to the fore, and makes them available to the wider world for application – by others and/or in partnership with NPA – in perhaps new ways that further the emergence of positive peace in all of the Five Spheres of Peace, thus infusing the culture with best practices.
The Spotlight on Peace database is accessible through the NPA website and through a mobile-device app – a fully comprehensive, user friendly tool for everything related to the Five Spheres of Peace. The database has three major sections:
- Peacebuilding at Work, where peacebuilders are invited to list and profile themselves and their work.
- Culture of Peace Manifest, where programs and communities that demonstrate the culture of peace already existing may choose to have themselves listed and profiled.
- Clearinghouse of Peacebuilding Resources and Practices, where stories, guidebooks, films, educational modules, and curricular materials – developed by NPA and/or by others in the field – are stored and made available for use by educators, parents, mentors, community groups, etc.
Also displayed on the website is a map, the Stars of Peace Map, of the peacebuilders and culture-of-peace sites profiled in the Spotlight on Peace database. The Map is a platform available through the NPA website and is searchable by geographic location, sphere of peace, and keywords. The Map can be used as a platform for networking among people, organizations, and communities working to build peace as well as those demonstrating the reality of the culture of peace. The platform facilitates synergistic possibilities among two or more people or organizations in the network who find each other due to shared geography or specific situations or issues. This is more than networking; it is building a living web of peace and peacebuilding.
The Stars of Peace Map, combined with the store of Clearinghouse materials, can help communities and crisis responders address conflicts arising from such emergent situations as gun violence (e.g., Sandy Hook), police abuse (e.g., Ferguson), racial incidents, and climate change. The interrelationships among the Five Spheres of Peace offer a holistic resource to help understand and respond to such conflict situations and to mitigate, or prevent altogether, the violence that may arise in future ones.
Contributor postings on a web-based forum and social media outlets are also an important means for shining the spotlight. Through sharing of opinions and perspectives on and experiences with peacebuilding and the culture of peace, people in all walks of life can help one another learn about and come to appreciate the Five Spheres of Peace and how to put them into practice in their lives. Thus, everyone can become a peacebuilder in her or his home, place of work, and community.
A mobile-device app that enables querying, reading, and submitting profiles and postings is a longer-term goal.