Peace Education in the Purest Sense

John Hunter puts all the problems of the world on a 4’x5′ plywood board — and lets his 4th-graders solve them. At TED2011, he explains how his World Peace Game engages school kids, and why the complex lessons it teaches — spontaneous, and always surprising — go further than classroom lectures can.

Mufaqarah Part 13: Exit

I came to this region of the world not knowing what to expect. I had very little knowledge of the area, rather on purpose. I came with an open mind as much as possible. I came to see.

There is a cartoon character whose name is Handala. The reader never sees his face because he is always watching, looking into the cartoon. He does other things sometimes but mostly he just watches, with his hands behind his back. In Palestine, mostly, I watched and listened to see what was happening.

A painting of Handala, on a wall in Nablus.
A painting of Handala, on a wall in Nablus. Continue reading

Linking Peace and Food Security Research

Irena Knezevic was one of the students in the PeaceMeal Project‘s first cohort of students for the online course offered through the National Peace Academy. Here, she describes her work with FoodARC and a presentation she gave to tie in her learning from the course with her professional life in food security research.

FoodARC is a food security research centre at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (We were formerly known as the Participatory Action Research and Training Centre on Food Security.) Our research is community-based and action oriented.  We also train students and create opportunities for mutual learning among researchers, community members, and policy makers.

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Here at FoodARC we look at food from many angles – we focus on food security, but see how we define it:
“Food security exists when everyone has access to safe, nutritious food of the variety and amount that they need and want, in a way that maintains their dignity. Food security also exists when people are able to earn a living wage by growing, producing, processing, handling, selling, and serving food, as well as when our planet is protected for future generations.”
Clearly, by focusing on one concern – food security – we in fact encompass a range of issues. Affordability, farmers and fishers’ livelihoods, processing and distribution, ecology, food skills, community engagement with food, policy and social justice – we are interested in all of that.
We recently hosted a brown-bag lunch with three presentations. One graduate student (Nadia Pabani) presented on her work with PhotoVoice – an innovative method meant to inspire creative contributions from research participants. Another graduate student (Kendra Read) spoke about her collaboration with the national student organization Meal Exchange and the work she is doing in the area of “knowledge mobilization” – the process of turning research findings into action.
My role in this session was to present on my recent experience of taking the PeaceMeal online course. My presentation notes will give you a glimpse of my reflection on the course, but they will not quite do the justice to the course, or properly portray how the course helped me make connections between peace-building and what I do. How, one may wonder, are food security research and peace-building connected?

Peace, Food, and ESL

Friday, September 21, was International Day of Peace, a day of nonviolence and cease-fire declared by the United Nations. I was subbing for an ESL class in the afternoon, so I thought I would prepare some peace-related vocabulary and idioms for our lesson.

To start the lesson, I asked the students (an intermediate-level class)  what they thought peace means. One said the time after a war, and another said friendship and harmony between people, and also an inner sense of calm. I had printed an online definition of peace – to my surprise, there were 17 total definitions of peace! We reviewed and talked about the definitions, found some new vocabulary words within the definitions (such as antagonistic, anxiety, lucidity) and discussed phrases like “rest in peace.”

Somehow, at some point, we began talking about food. I think it was actually a side tangent – one of the students mentioned that she didn’t like to cook, which then led to the topic of organic food and GMOs. It just so happened that I had also printed an article from Breaking News English that talked about the recent Stanford study that claims that organically grown food is no more nutritious than conventionally grown food. We read and discussed the article, with the students largely disagreeing with the study’s findings.

Class time was up. We didn’t have time to finish the peace definitions. As she was getting up to leave, one student commented, “What a funny class! We started out talking about peace and ended up talking about food!”

I told her about PeaceMeal, saying that this progression of discussion made perfect sense to me. And hopefully it will lead us in a new direction for next week 🙂

The Last Diet You Will Ever Need

There’s something seriously flawed about our food system, and so many of us are sick or struggling as a result.  But need it be so difficult?  Mark Hyman discusses the opportunities provided by a real food diet, a simple alternative to fad diets and passing food trends.  This article is a republication of an article published on June 3, 2012, by The Huffington Post (additional photos and images).

 

Why is it that we believe we can feed our bodies industrial, nutrient-depleted food-like substances empty of life and be healthy? How did we come to believe that food industry chemicals and processing could replace nature-made foods?

 

Cosmetically-Challenged Crops

I sometimes stop and wonder, what will be the next big thing in the food movement?  We’ve seen fads and trends swoop in, and certain things linger while other things fade away.  There’s been intense nutritionism, focusing our desires on key chemical and nutritional components of our food (have you eaten enough vitamin B6 today? get enough iron on that vegan diet?), the no-carb, the low-carb, the low-fat, the high-protein, and every other weight loss restriction you can imagine.  We’ve gone through the Canada Food Guide recommendations in school, the glycemic index standards for blood sugar consistency, the superfoods crazes (chia, hemp, and wild blueberries, oh my!), the natural and whole foods phenomena, and today, ethical standards (fair trade, local, and organic) tend to dominate the attention of foodies in the know.  But, as I look around me, and read the food news, and talk to others who eat, I can’t help but think perhaps the next wave is going to be healthy and whole, but quite frankly, unconventionally beautiful. Continue reading

Online PeaceMeal Course

Beginning on August 20th 2012, the PeaceMeal Project’s co-creators Stephanie Knox Cubbon and Hannah Renglich will be convening an e-learning course through the National Peace Academy!  It is part of the NPA’s National Peacebuilding Peacelearning Certificate Program, and can count toward the certificate’s completion.

The course is perfect for anyone wishing to explore how to build peace through food and food systems, for organizations and businesses wishing to train staff and volunteers to create a culture of peace within the workplace, and for students at any level interested in refining ideas and making clearer connections between the two vast topics.

For more information, visit our online course page, or visit the NPA site to register for this course now.

PeaceMeal with a Yogic Twist

This weekend I facilitated a PeaceMeal workshop at the yoga studio where I teach, Yoga Oceanside. It was PeaceMeal with a yogic twist!

First we did a meditation just to get centered and become present, and in which I asked the participants to notice how hungry they were, rate it on a scale of 1-10, and to notice where they look for hunger, what kind of sensations they feel, etc. This is an activity we can do anytime with think we’re hungry – because as it turns out, just because we think we’re hungry, doesn’t mean we actually are!

Continue reading