Last weekend, I helped organize and facilitate a workshop on how the peacebuilding community could respond and innovate in the tough political times that was held at George Mason University’s Point of View Retreat Center. In all, about fifty people representing networks of peacebuilders, community mediators, veterans, religious and spiritual leaders, data scientists, management consultants, and others spent two and a half days exploring the work we already do, finding overlapping efforts already under way, and laying out a schedule for what we could do together and separately until we gather again sometime next spring.
On April 6, I had the pleasure of attending the dedication and grand opening of Point of View, George Mason University’s new Point of View conference and retreat center. Located on Belmont Bay–an inlet of the Potomac River less than twenty miles from Washington–Point of View sits on 120 acres on the edge of s state park and a protected national wetland. For now, Point of View is just a wonderful meeting place. Once the fund raising is completed, it will have residential units which will allow negotiators and others to spend extended periods of time there
There are other centers that can be used for private meetings in the Washington, DC area, but Point of View will be unique because it is dedicated to conflict analysis and resolution and will be an integral part of GMU’s School of the same name (scar.gmu.edu).
As its planners describe it on their web site.
Every day, we witness new acts of violence, civil war, and malevolent conflict around the world. Never has the world faced such a broad and urgent set of challenges and threats to international peace. To that end, The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University is developing PoV as a unique retreat complex to promote research in conflict analysis, facilitate conflict resolution and reconciliation, and offer training to a new generation of scholars and practitioners. Appropriately named Point of View, the complex provides a tranquil setting for high-level domestic and international dialogues, academic research, conferences, workshops, and skills training – all guided by S-CAR’s conflict resolution professionals.
So far, this blog focused on my work on wicked problems whose causes and consequences are so interconnected that you can’t solve them quickly, separately, or easily.
But I make my living as a peacebuilder. While the news from places like the Middle East is not good these days, we peacebuilders did get a piece (pun intended) of good news this week.
A new Geneva-based startup, Silicon Peace, has launched Peace Times News which does something that no one has done before. It gathers, curates, and publishes stories about conflict and peace efforts around the world. It has its fair share of stories about the world’s problems. This morning they included ones on Boko Haram in Nigeria, fighting in Syria, and the like.
But, it also has otherwise hard to find coverage not just of peace movements but of the role the private sector and technologists are playing and it extends the peacebuilder’s horizon to include other issues, including sustainability.