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Volunteer at Talking Peace Festival!

Applications open for a variety of positions

International Alert is now recruiting for volunteers to support its Talking Peace Festival, which is returning to London for its second year this autumn around International Peace Day (21 September).

Building upon last year’s success, the festival will feature a packed month-long programme of cultural events from 7 September – 2 October, all designed to spark conversations about peace through creativity and celebrate the power of words to resolve conflicts. From a pop-up restaurant, street art campaign and exhibitions to talks, music, hackathons and comedy, there will be something for everyone in London. And there are various ways you can get directly involved too.

Whether you’re a media or social media enthusiast, keen to gain experience in the world of events, or have a strong interest in art or music, there are a number of exciting volunteering positions we want to fill. Applications are now open and we’d love to hear from you. Here’s an outline of the different ways you could join us and inspire more people to start Talking Peace again this September.

These roles are all based in London and applicants must have the right to work in the UK.

Media and social media volunteer (deadline: Sunday 19 July)

In this 3 month office-based role, you’ll be responsible for engaging new audiences and expanding the reach of the festival by generating media coverage and updating its website and social media channels with creative content. You’ll have excellent knowledge of UK and international media, as well as experience with social media.

Events coordinator volunteer (deadline: Sunday 19 July)

This 3 month office-based role is well suited for someone keen to gain experience in events management. It will involve offering logistical and administrative support to help ensure that a full and diverse festival programme runs smoothly.

Multimedia volunteers (deadline: Sunday 26 July)

If you’re a skilled photographer, videographer or audio editor, join our multimedia team and help us to capture and share the festival spirit. We’ll provide a platform for showcasing your work online, and it may also be featured in international media covering the festival. We’re asking you to commit to working at least four shifts over the festival period.

Events volunteers (deadline: Sunday 26 July)

If you’re a positive team player who enjoys running events and engaging with a range of audiences, this is the position for you. There will be opportunities to get involved in a range of activities over the festival period, during which we’re looking for you to be able to work at least four shifts.

For any questions, contact Tom Alwyn on 0207 627 6833 or email communications@international-alert.org.

Keep an eye on the festival website for updates (new version launching soon): www.talkingpeacefestival.org.

You can follow us on Twitter @TalkPeaceFest and Facebook, and join the conversation using the hashtag #TalkingPeace.

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Talking Peace Festival 2015

International Alert’s Talking Peace Festival is returning to London for its second year this autumn with an even bigger series of creative events around the International Day of Peace (21 September).

Click here to visit out 2015 Talking Peace Festival website

The festival provides a unique arts and cultural platform for engaging people with the most urgent peace and conflict issues around the world.

Last year’s events engaged thousands of Londoners and received coverage in over 20 countries. They left us hugely inspired by the appetite people have for talking more about peace, so we’ve decided to put together another packed month-long programme, which this year has a special focus: ‘Peace in our cities‘.

Food, street art, exhibitions, music, talks, technology and comedy will all feature prominently in a festival that has something for everyone. We’ll be getting underway on 7 September with most activities taking place in London, but some also going global for the first time.

Dialogue will remain at the heart of everything, because we believe it’s the first step towards resolving conflicts and building peace.

Talking Peace Festival 2015. Because peace begins with words.

The programme at a glance

Remember Conflict Kitchen London? We’re very excited to announce that the ‘most inspiring pop-up of 2014’ (as named by Time Out) will be returning this September under the new guise of Conflict Café. Serving up authentic dishes from conflict areas around the world, the restaurant will inspire more strangers to ‘break bread’ with one another and find out something new about the conflict, history and food of these regions.

Our #ART4PEACE campaign will also be back in a bigger way. There will be live art sessions, an exhibition and an auction featuring original works from some of the biggest street artists around, all painting their visions of peace in their city.

We’ll be exploring this theme in a host of other creative ways, including through a major photography exhibition documenting International Alert’s diverse work in building peace in different cities around the world.

Our talks programme will also include a special discussion on ‘peace in our cities’ to launch the festival. We have another impressive line-up of speakers taking part in our second talk on technology and peacebuilding, where we’ll be tackling the question ‘Can an app stop a bullet?’

This will complement our peace hackathons (#peacehack). Building on the success of last year’s London hack, this will connect with hackathons we’re hoping to host in other major cities in September, from Barcelona to Beirut to Washington. All will attempt to develop groundbreaking ideas for using technology to build peace in these different urban contexts.

And that’s not the end of it. We’ll have live musical performances with the launch of ‘Ceasefire Sessions’, while our comedy night will be returning on the International Day of Peace when some of the UK’s brightest comedians will take part in a ‘Are you taking the peace?’ special.

We’ll be revealing more details on the website, including special features, blogs and photos, so stay tuned for updates.

Be the first to find out by following us on twitter @talkpeacefest, and join the conversation using #TalkingPeace.

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Peace Day weekend at Queen of Hoxton

To mark the UN International Peace Day on 21 September, we partnered with the Queen of Hoxton – a music-led arts space in East London – for a weekend of art, food and conversation!

The food took on a Middle Eastern grill theme as part of Conflict Kitchen – London, serving recipes from chefs Yotam Ottolenghi, Anissa Helou and Claudia Roden.

A range of artists also set up on the rooftop to work on canvas paintings as part of the #ART4PEACE campaign. They were: Hannah Adamaszek, Artista, Carolina Maggio, KEF!, Mr Shiz, Andrea Tyrimos and Zina.

Camera and editing: Daniel Lucas

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All of us can help build peace

Rosie Edge tells us what she learned while volunteering at the Talking Peace Festival.

After a few days in Old Street station, offering Talking Peace Festival postcards alongside the Metro man, I thought I had a pretty good idea of who would take one and who wouldn’t. But every single day, people surprised me. The type of person who would take the publicity, who would  stop and ask ‘What’s this all about then?’, who would happily don a pair of clown specs and a pink feather boa to have their photo taken while making a peace sign … Well, there was no ‘type’. That’s what getting involved in Talking Peace has taught me.

I originally got involved through a friend at International Alert, who  knew that I had a lot of free time at the right time, so I signed up for whatever was needed, which turned out to be taking photos of complete strangers in the Peace Booth, and of the artists who were working each day too. It was a real privilege to watch the canvases develop and then see some of the finished works on display in Conflict Kitchen London, a.k.a. Monikers on Hoxton Square. Giving out leaflets to complete strangers and talking to them about the festival gave me a better grasp of the variety of events on offer, and helping out at the Amahoro Generation exhibition on the South Bank gave me a better understanding of the work of Alert and the huge task that faces them.

But also talking to those complete strangers taught me the importance of communicating and creating that dialogue that Alert strives to promote globally. I realised that while I may live in a peaceful society, it doesn’t mean I should ignore the plight of those in less stable and less peaceful situations. All of us have something to contribute to peace, however small, and it doesn’t just lie with a certain ‘type’ of person. Just look at the Peace Booth photos – everyone was there, and I’m glad I was too.

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#peacehack: Can an app stop a bullet?

36 hours is a long time to stay awake – just ask Dan Marsh from International Alert. He, and some dedicated hackers did just that last weekend for the #peacehack, part of the peacebuilding charity’s month-long Talking Peace Festival. The 36-hour hackathon, which culminated on the International Day of Peace, saw six teams of developers working through the night to create an impressive array of apps, websites and even a real-life light up ‘peace crane’.

One developer said on Sunday: “this is the best hackathon I’ve ever been too. Normally people just arrive and get on with their own designs, but there’s been a real team atmosphere here. Everyone is working together and sharing ideas.”

Early on the first morning, members of Alert staff pitched their ideas on everything from a Sims-like game that enables users to try their hand at local-level peacebuilding, an app that calculates your ‘peace footprint’ to help people visualise the impacts their actions can have on conflict and peace in the rest of the world, and an app that encourages social accountability, allowing people in conflict-affected countries to report on the behaviour of various institutions anonymously.

For those who work in the peacebuilding sector, technology increasingly presents itself as a powerful tool to bring about social and political change. Not only can it overcome many of the barriers faced in fragile and conflict-affected states, it can often do so relatively inexpensively.

It remains the case that many of the places where Alert works have poor internet connectivity outside of large urban centres, and few people own smartphones or computers. But that situation is changing very rapidly, and now is the time to take advantage of that change.

Alert already uses Facebook to foster positive contact between groups on either side of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, and has worked on capacity-building projects with local and community radios in both West Africa and Nepal. Everything from smartphone apps to simple SMS can be used in activities like real time conflict mapping, enhancing state–citizen relations and improving political participation. Additionally, technology can work for peacebuilders too, enabling us to better implement, monitor and evaluate our projects, and present that information in a more interactive and user-friendly way. It can also, as demonstrated by some of the developers at the #peacehack, be used to educate people back home on just how much their consumption, travel habits and even choice of smartphone can have an impact on conflicts on the other side of the planet.

Of course, technological solutions like these are not without their risks. Asking people to share personal and location data, particularly in fragile contexts, can be problematic and potentially dangerous. Conflict-sensitive approaches in these situations are essential. It is also important to remember that any technological tool is only effective if people want to engage with it, so a detailed understanding of the context in which it will be used is also vital.

Which is why an event like the hackathon is so valuable. Bringing together this essential practitioner knowledge and the technological know-how that many peacebuilding organisations would acknowledge they are lacking. Collaborating has the potential to create tools that can genuinely contribute to consolidating peace, and if the results after 36 hours are anything to go by, it could be a very exciting collaboration indeed.

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VIDEO: Paint jam for peace

As part of Talking Peace Festival 2014, a top line-up of London street artists painted their interpretations of peace through a jam in East London.

The event took place in a courtyard off Great Eastern Street right next to Shoreditch Art Wall.

The paint jam featured Captain Kris, Himbad, Jeba, Ricky Dep, SAKI & Bitches, TonyBoy, Tony Riff and The Real Dill. It was accompanied by reggae music by legendary Hackney DJ Newton ‘Ace’ Dunbar, founder of The Four Aces Club.

Camera and editing: Daniel Lucas

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Artists speak out against war

More than 25 artists have taken part in the #ART4PEACE campaign, launched in London earlier this month as part of the Talking Peace Festival.

Street art, paintings and interactive sculptures created or donated for the campaign are on display at Hoxton Gallery (12 noon–8pm daily; late opening on Thursday 2 October).

The effects of war, the root causes of conflict and ideas about peace and what it means are just a few of the themes explored in the campaign.

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Artworks available in the auction include locally and internationally produced works, from Pure Evil’s canvas ‘Impossible is possible’ to Yoko Ono’s interactive sculpture ‘Colours of the globe’ (pictured below).

Yoko Ono said: “Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world. Just start talking peace and the message will spread quicker than you think.”

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International Alert’s Secretary General Dan Smith said: “The approaches these artists have taken are fresh and challenging. It has been fascinating to compare their works, which have equally inspired and provoked.”

The exhibition at Hoxton Gallery runs until Friday 3 October. The artworks will be publicly auctioned on the finalday from 7pm. Potential buyers outside London can already start bidding online: www.intalert.org/art4peace

For details, please contact: communications@international-alert.org

All proceeds will go towards funding the work of International Alert, which is working on finding peaceful resolutions to conflict in more than 25 countries.

As influential street artist Victor Ash said: “The best way art can contribute to avoiding conflicts is to be pro-peace rather than anti-war.”

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Images (from top to bottom): ‘Battle wings’ by Andrea Tyrimos; ‘Impossible is possible’ by Pure Evil; ‘Colours of the globe’ by Yoko Ono; ‘Wolf and tank’ by Victor Ash.

Artists in the auction are:

Yoko Ono, 616, Adrián Morales Rodríguez, Andrea Tyrimos, Artista, Benjamin Murphy, Carolina Maggio, Dan Kitchener, Francesca Love Artist, Ibrahim Fakhri, Jim McElvaney, Josh Jeavons, KEF!, Lana Alana, Magnus Gjoen, Mr Dane, Mr Shiz, Pang, Pure Evil, Suzko, Tarek Tuma, Victor Ash and Zina.

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Syrian artists join #ART4PEACE campaign

Syrian artists Ibrahim Fakhri and Tarek Tuma have joined the #ART4PEACE campaign in London by creating two powerful canvases in reaction to the crisis in Syria.

The campaign was launched earlier this month as part of Talking Peace Festival, inviting more than 20 artists to paint their interpretations of peace. It will draw to a close with a public auction at Hoxton Gallery in East London on Friday 3 October 2014. The artworks are currently open to the public for viewing at the gallery (details).

There is also an opportunity for potential buyers outside London to start bidding online (www.intalert.org/art4peace). All proceeds will go towards funding the work of the charity, which is working on peaceful resolutions to conflict in more than 25 countries, including in the Middle East.

Tarek Tuma, who counts Pablo Picasso among his influences, said:

“This piece is an embodiment of hope, peace and love. I think art can be a great force against war. You have the force of destruction represented by wars and atrocities, and you have another force of creation represented by art. In Syria, people are expressing themselves in an artistic way which is very powerful.”

Tarek Tuma #art4peace_final

Ibrahim Farkhi, whose spray-painted stencil canvas is based on a photograph of a Syrian refugee child, said:

“To show a smile – the humanity of a child – is the main goal of this piece. I would like politicians to see the other side of the story and to see that children have nothing to do with what’s happening now. To live in peace is their right.”

Ibrahim Fakhri_#art4peace

Artworks available in the auction have come in both locally and on an international scale, including Yoko Ono, the multimedia artist, singer, and peace activist donating an interactive sculpture titled ‘Colours of the Globe’.

Secretary General of International Alert Dan Smith said:

“The approaches these artists have taken are fresh and challenging. It has been fascinating to compare their works which have equally inspired and provoked.”

Images (top to bottom): Tarek Tuma at work; ‘Untitled’ by Tarek Tuma; ‘Syria’s children deserve better’ by Ibrahim Fakhri

Bid on these works and others here: www.intalert.org/art4peace

About the artists

Ibrahim Fakhri is an Oxford-based Syrian artist and activist. Since the crisis in Syria, Ibrahim’s work has shifted from a focus on sculptures to his works of graffiti. He has exhibited the graffiti of the Syrian crisis in many venues in Britain and Europe, currently taking part in Disobedient Objects at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Tarek Tuma is a Syrian artist originally from the city of Douma in Syria. Whilst studying medicine at Damascus University, Tarek took a short sculpture course. He then went on to study three years of fine art followed by a post-graduate diploma and MA in fine arts.

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#peacehack: The making of a movement

Can an app stop a bullet? Can social media stop a war?

On 20–21 September we brought together peacebuilders, coders and designers for the first ever #peacehack, a 36-hour hackathon aimed at creating and realising solutions to aid some of the most complex processes involved on the long road to peace. Here’s the story:

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#ART4PEACE: Online auction open

Our online auction of the artworks created for the #ART4PEACE campaign is now open!

More than 30 talented artists took part in the campaign, including: Yoko Ono, 616, Hannah Adamaszek, Victor Ash, Pure Evil, Magnus Gjoen, Kef, Dan Kitchener, Jim McElvaney, Adrián Morales Rodríguez, Benjamin Murphy, Tarek Tuma and Andrea Tyrimos.

To view the artworks and make a bid, please visit intalert.org/art4peace. If you are in London, a selection of the works will be on display at Hoxton Gallery until 3 October, with a live auction. Find out more here.

All proceeds go to International Alert.