The Artisans of Peace Program

We believe in the contagious power of creative nonviolence to heal communities wherever it spreads.

We call this program Artisans of Peace (AoP) because peacebuilding is a creative act that draws on our bodies, souls, and minds. AoP is a space of accompaniment, connection, and growth –  a nonrivalrous, creative space where all can lower defense mechanisms, grow in trust, and allow curiosity and creativity to flourish.

Such space allows people to gather together to renew hope, inspire collaboration, and help to overcome destructive rivalries.

I’ve always felt safe in the space you’ve created, to show up exactly as I am, and to share shamelessly.

Program Structure

The first cohort of Artisans of Peace was a twelve-month journey with eleven virtual meetings and one four-day face-to-face retreat. Careful observation of this journey surfaced a methodology for creating nonrivalrous space for peacebuilders.  

Nonrivalrous space is the starting point of Artisans of Peace. Nonrivalrous Space is an environment of trust where we can relax, lower our defense mechanisms, and be curious. It is space where we can show up fully and receive others in similar ways, allowing for collaboration and creativity. 

We explore our desires. We recognize that our desires are drawn from and sustained in our relationships. Discovering desires is a painstaking process of patiently asking the question why and surfacing the truer roots of desires. Many of us have been taught to fear and distrust our desires. We easily get caught up in others’ desires. The journey of discovering desire requires honesty, humility, and a space safe enough to explore these questions.

We understand rivalry to be the primary dynamic that holds us back so we focus on identifying the things that have come between us and our longing for peace and nonviolence. Rivalry arises from insecurity, the belief that others are inherently different or have things figured out more than we do. Unchecked rivalry breeds animosity and division and restricts belonging and cooperation. We find that rivalry often shows up in peacebuilders as self-doubt and imposter syndrome.

We then seek to examine rivalry and other things that hinder us from different angles. Creativity is seeing a problem in a different light, approaching it in a novel way. When rivalry narrows our field of possibility, creativity opens new potential. What happens when we shift to a different and perhaps unfamiliar strategy, employing creative arts or mindful approaches? What happens when we engage our bodies alongside our minds? We believe that stepping out of our comfort zones and “shifting the light” on the problem is essential and that such creative acts need to become instinctual. 

Finally, we recognize that all of this work is sustained in community and that community is key to creating ever-widening nonrivalrous spaces. Just as we begin with the question who are you and whose are you, we conclude with the question who are we and what can we do together that we cannot do alone? How do we dare to imitate one another’s best desires in a way that inspires even more people? 

My fellow Artisans of Peace nurtured fresh trust in me that our wounds are openings to light, places where we are attuned to the needs of the world, experiences where our vocation is revealed. I experienced fresh hope that healing is possible in my life as I observed and listened to my colleagues tell stories of facing pain and responding creatively to it… UnRival creates that resilience, trust, hopefulness, cheerfulness that enables us to continue imagining and acting with gentleness, tenderness, and dignity even in extremely high-stress and distressing situations.

Our Journey

Artisans of Peace grew out of conversations with peacebuilders and remains in constant dialogue with our ever-expanding network. 

Peacebuilders are not heroes but humans. Even the most creative and courageous peacebuilders are not immune to fear, destructive rivalry, and feelings of isolation. We listened carefully to what contributes to these challenges: a need to perform, a sense of scarcity, rigid systems, and competitiveness. Nonrivalrous space emerged as an alternative kind of space – a space for hope, collaboration, and connection.

We launched our first cohort of Artisans in September 2022. The unRival staff engaged with 10 activists, artists, and academics from eight countries and four continents. Despite the diversity of their backgrounds and activities, they all shared a core self-identification as a peacebuilder. We invited them to join us in an act of co-creation, working with us to nurture the sort of space we all desired.

The staff and the participants were open in sharing their struggles. This allowed me to see myself accompanied by others who experience similar things to what I experience. This is hopeful. It makes me realize that I am not alone in my struggles as I work towards justpeace. I believe that I contributed to this space by also being open. I shared about my self-doubt, I listened, and I sat with what was shared to me without trying to fix it.

What’s Next?

In 2024, unRival will launch a second global cohort of Artisans of Peace. This nine-month program will again include diverse backgrounds and occur in a blended environment of virtual meetings coupled with a face-to-face retreat. This is an opportunity to further test and evaluate what we have learned. We will also explore the program’s business model and how it might be sustained in the long term. 

We set out to make AoP a co-creative project with our staff participating fully. I’ve been surprised by how real this has been and how much I’ve been challenged to reflect and act on the ways rivalry shows up in my own life. The honest, truthful journey with friends in nonrivalrous space has created safe space for me to relax and show up with my full potential.

How can you be involved?

We are reviewing what we’ve learned from AoP Cohort 1. This fall, we’ll be sharing that learning with several audiences and seeking their input on how to build the program further. To be part of that, please contact Jason Ferenczi

Are you interested in participating in cohort 2 in 2024? Please complete this form to tell us more!

Support the ongoing development of AoP! One participant’s participation costs approximately $4,000. Contribute toward that by donating below.

There is hope in these divided and difficult times.

The world's peace builders desperately need spaces of trust, curiosity, and collaboration. Meet the need by supporting gatherings that nurture hope and inspire creative solutions to the world's toughest problems.

Join us to transform communities plagued by violence and rivalry.
The Artisans of Peace short film shows how simple acts of loving-kindness and creativity can bind a community to one another with dignity and beauty. It encourages viewers by challenging the boundaries of what we mean by “creativity.”

Can a simple mural heal the wounds of conflict? Maybe not, but the gesture of reaching out, of fighting hate, and of permanently engraving loving kindness in our shared spaces can have profound effects.

Being an Artisan of Peace is about engaging nonrivalrously with your community creatively, through techniques, mediums, and practices that are uniquely your own.

It’s about engaging the transformative power of creativity, even in the midst of struggle.