2016 in review

It’s been a year of reflection and refocus at Build Up.

We’ve reflected on why we do what we do.

We think focusing on citizenship and participation is key to working on peace and conflict. We see our work as part of a global paradigm shift that leverages technology and creativity to bring more voices into the public discourse, so more citizens can positively influence policy- and decision-making processes to better address their needs and those of their community. Real, effective citizen participation in peace processes not only increases the trust and accountability between citizens and authorities, but also empowers citizens to take greater ownership and action for peace in their own context.

what she said. #punkpeace

We’ve refocused on what we’re passionate about.

We bring innovative practices to peacebuilding processes because we have seen they can amplify citizen participation. Our toolkit started off with just technology (peacetech). As we’ve grown, we’ve also incorporated arts methodologies and participatory research. We believe current peacebuilding challenges require greater creativity, better tools, and more citizen engagement. We approach technology, arts and research as tools for participation: they all create new narratives, they can all shift the balance of power towards citizens.

Build Peace Fellows & Conference

This year we started the Build Peace Fellows program, which builds local innovative potential for individuals and organisations embedded in peacebuilding processes. Over one year, the program helps an individual take an innovative peacebuilding intervention from idea to implementation. We received 148 applications from 60 different countries, and selected 3 exceptional individuals as the first Build Peace Fellows. Jean Marie Ndihokubwayo (Burundi) is developing a participatory analysis platform that will support a long term multi-stakeholder dialogue. Diana Dajer (Colombia) is building a digital game to encourage participation in local budgeting processes. Maude Morrison (Myanmar) is developing a rumour tracking smartphone app.

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Fellows work with developers at the Build Peace peacehack.

Revolution starts at home, preferably in the bathroom mirror.

Read more about where this quote came from (and transformation).

Creativity as consultation in the CAR

Build Up designed and facilitated a community-based art methodology as part of a national consultation on security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration led by the United States Institute of Peace.

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Participatory video in Kaga Bandoro.

Participation is data, and through participation we are helping citizens co-ordinate their emancipation.

Our approach is never about collecting the data itself: it’s about involving people in the process. We need participation not just because it helps us get data, but because participation helps us further the larger goals of building coexistence and coherence.

A news service for migrants

In late 2015, Internews launched NewsThatMoves.org, a news website for people who are displaced or seeking asylum, especially in Greece and the Balkans, that produces independent, verified information people can use. Internews contracted Build Up to design, develop and launch the NewsThatMoves site and related social media campaigns. There is also an element of participation in this website: readers can ask questions that the Internews team tries to respond to with news articles.

We work to put innovation at the service of empowerment.

Research on peacetech in the EU and in Syria

We’re also beginning to realise that this notion of innovation as empowerment not only shapes our approach to design but also has informed much of our research this year.

  • Have ICT uses led to more empowerment — and if so, whose?

Peacebuilding is not a journey, it’s a dance.

There’s a thread that ties together much of what we have learned this year, a thread that runs through creativity-innovation-empowerment. Alan Watts speaks of understanding life in analogy to music or dance. Life is playful and creative; it is not a journey with a destination. We’re beginning to think that the same applies to peace: it’s not a destination, it’s a constant dance, a constant invention. This is why innovation through participation is critical to peacebuilding.

We work on innovation because constantly re-inventing is a way to transform conflict.

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Build Up transforms conflict in the digital age. Our approach combines peacebuilding, participation and technology.

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