Making can have a real impact in transforming communities away from violence toward positive peace.
They go by different names such as makerspaces, labs and workshops. But what they have in common is that these initiatives can help local economies, can be spaces to create life-saving items for social good, and can also serve as the catalyst for peacebuilding.
While these spaces often focus on technology, they also have a role similar to community centers, offering educational opportunities, training, resources, events and community engagement. The environments of makerspaces foster sharing and learning and create an atmosphere for people to come together regardless of backgrounds with a common goal.
These spaces promote rules and respect amongst members, and increased interaction with others can lead to shrinking stereotypes. In these environments you have to coexist with others. Something promoted through manufacturing is known as material participation; meaning it promotes objects, devices and settings that enable civic action without “investing time, money, attention ideology in the problem” (Marres, 2015, p. 10).
There are numerous examples across the globe where makerspaces create environments for peacebuilding and reconciliation to prosper. One of the spaces is Farset Labs, in Belfast, Ireland. One of the Farset founders says that the space has little to do with technology, but more so the facilitation of social connection. Perhaps this is why there are makerspaces in all regions of the world, such as jHub in South Sudan, and Basra in Iraq. There are makerspaces in refugee camps and other volatile regions, allowing for people to have agency to solve their own problems.
The focus on training and entrepreneurship can create new opportunities, especially for people at the margins of society. By exposing people to new skills, their chances of job and livelihood opportunities increase, allowing them to be productive members of society.
While there is no single approach to peacebuilding, a lot can stem from a change in beliefs. Within the maker movement, there is room for everyone, and a common identity can be provided. There is so much potential for technology and makerspaces to support peaceful environments in and outside of makerspaces. We are eager to see how Field Ready can bring people lifesaving items while supporting positive social outcomes.
(1) Positive peace, a concept forwarded by Johan Gultung, is a condition that witnesses not just the absence of violent conflict but also the presence of all the beneficial aspects of development such as inclusion, trust and freedom.
(2) Marres, Noortje.Material Participation: Technology, the Environment and Everyday Publics.New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, p. 10.