Creative peacebuilding

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Creative Peacebuilding is the larger name for creative therapies used to create peace, within individuals, groups, and societies. These therapies are used with many different demographic groups and in various types of situations. Although used primarily to overcome violence, creative peacebuilding can also be used as a preventative measure to make the foundations of peace stronger, especially when used with children. Creating an environment of lasting peace is the primary goal of peacebuilding.

Types of Creative Peacebuilding[edit]


Music therapy can be used in several different fashions to build peace. It can be used to help individuals express themselves or to foster communication between individuals or groups of people. It can be used to nurture healing and reconciliation. Music is something that transcends language and national or ethnic boundaries. It has unique styles depending on the community it originates in and can also be adapted to fit individual's tastes. When two groups who have been in conflict or have the potential for conflict make music together communication and healing become possible. When individuals listen to or play music, they can reduce their stress levels and express their feelings.

Visual Art[edit]

Visual art therapy can be used to help individuals cope with their feelings resulting from violent experiences. It is also used to treat Post-traumatic stress disorder. Art therapy is especially useful for people who are having trouble verbalizing their feelings and are keeping them bottled up. By sharing their experiences and processing them through a tactical and visual activity, people are able to heal. No prior experience with visual art is needed to participate in and gain benefits from art therapy —it is about the process of creation, not about the aesthetic appeal of the product. Art therapy can be used in group settings as well—creating a collaborative art project can be an experience that bridges differences between people and builds feelings of trust.

Visualization and Technology[edit]

If people who have lived through traumatic or violent experiences can relive them and change the situation or their response to the situation they can come to terms with their past. Virtual technology and especially virtual reality simulations can be especially useful in cases like these and have been used to treat veterans of the Iraq war who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If the technology needed for these simulations is too expensive to be practical, mental visualization, in which the victim uses their imagination to create situations and feel as if they are gaining control of the way events play out, can be used as an alternative.

When it is Used[edit]

When Working with Children[edit]

Creative peacebuilding can be especially powerful when used with a young demographic. It lays the roots for a peaceful lifestyle when used with at-risk youth, and can help children who have already experienced trauma in their lives become fully functional adults. Art therapy has been used to help rehabilitate child soldiers in Uganda as well as to help children who lost their homes in the tsunami of 2004 cope with their feelings. Many youth centers catering to impoverished children use art forms to build community, discipline and trust.


Whether bringing about reconciliation between conflicting groups or allowing individuals to express their feelings so that they can move past the pain caused by violent events, creative peacebuilding is a necessary measure to bring society back to health and vibrancy. Because sometimes words are not sufficient to express grief, frustration, or pain, sometimes other methods are the most conducive to communication. This also allows health-care professionals to gain insight needed to treat individuals and to evaluate mental health and healing.

As a Preventative Measure[edit]

The arts can be used to build peace before violence breaks out. It can be used to reinforce cooperation skills and develop proficiency in communications. It can overcome language barriers and make people more aware of points of view that are different from their own. Creative therapies can also allow individuals to feel connected to a community history or tradition and develop their own sense of constructive purpose. This helps to build lasting peace because when individuals are at peace with themselves and their own histories, conflict is less likely to arise within the community.

Who Provides Services[edit]

Private therapy practices can provide services to foster creative peacebuilding, but more often it is facilitated through non-profits, religious organizations, and community centers or school systems. Although sometimes creative peacebuilding is used unilaterally, most of the time it is incorporated with already existing programs as part of a holistic approach to healing or community building.


Create Peace Project[edit]

Create Peace Project is an arts-for-peace education organization working to promote the practices of peace and spread the message of hope and goodwill to children around the world using creativity. Create Peace Project was founded in San Francisco, California in 2007 by artist and peace activist Ross Holzman in response to the overwhelming amount of violence in the world, on the news, and in our communities. Violence, coupled with the lack of creativity in peoples lives sparked the creation of projects such as Banners for Peace and The Peace Exchange. Create Peace Project has included more than 25,000 children from around the world in its arts-for-peace projects since its inception and continues to work with schools in the US and beyond promoting peace through creativity to children of all ages.

Barefoot Artists[edit]

Artist Lily Yeh has helped to heal the wounds genocide left on a village of widows and orphans through her work with Barefoot Artists. The members of the community were provided with a chance to honor their lost loved ones through their construction of a beautiful and expressive monument commemorating the mass grave of the local victims of the genocide. The construction process also provided a sense of closure to their mourning. Other aspects of the peacebuilding process in the village included paintings on building walls created by the village children of things that they hoped to see in the future as well as things important to their everyday existence. On the economic side of this peacebuilding effort, the people of the village learned how to mosaic and pour concrete, two useful and marketable skills to help provide economic stability.

River City Drum Corps[edit]

In the United State, creative peacebuilding is used in many inner-city areas in places such as New York, Philadelphia, and Louisville. The River City Drum Corps in Louisville, Ky provides a musical outlet for children who perhaps are not listened to in other parts of their lives. It is also a structured program where discipline and the importance of both uniqueness and teamwork are taught. The children learn drumming patterns and perform for different events and groups of people throughout the city. Both the children in the program and their audience benefit from the cultural exchange and communication that take place during drum corps performances.


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