Interview with Postcards for Peace
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I am currently a Goodwill Ambassador with Postcards for Peace, a non-profit organisation that aims to spread the values of peace, tolerance, and love—by making and selling postcards. All the money raised from the sale of postcards goes into funding their initiatives for children and youngsters across the globe.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Martin Rowsell, the founder. I picked up some very intriguing points that I would be delighted to share with you all. The organisation’s website can be visited at: http://www.postcardsforpeace.org/
R: In many cases, there is a sudden spark that sets the founding of an organisation into motion. Martin, what was your spark that led you to create Postcards for Peace?
M: I was watching TV a few years ago when I found a channel showing a film about the organisation “Peace One Day”… and I realised how passionately I felt about “peace” at that point; thereafter, I did everything I could to promote their work. Several years later, after reading a book and hearing a lecture with the same message, I felt like I needed to channelize my skills and experience as a graphic designer to give something back to the world. The idea of Postcards For Peace came soon after in the middle of the night.
R: Sending postcards across the world is an extremely creative and original way of promoting peace, non-violence, and love. Why did you choose postcards as a means of achieving an end?
M: I think the name and idea came to me at the same time. It all seemed to work with what I wanted to do – a creative communications project to connect people around the world. Postcards are such an incredibly simple form of communication that everyone around the world knows and can relate to. Although they are just a minute rectangle of heavy paper, they can offer so much: a space for a picture and room for a few, powerful words. It just seemed perfect. Moreover, since we have been running the organisation, we have discovered many ways of getting so much more out of a postcard: they can be a very flexible education tool.
R: Postcards for Peace has several target areas, such as reducing xenophobia, resolving conflict, and improving the accessibility of education. In your opinion, which is the most urgent target area that has to be addressed?
M: At the moment, our prime aim is trying to unite people regardless of religion and culture. This is an issue facing people all around the world, and is creating so much fear and hatred. People have to realise that we are all humans, and that we should be able to harbour our own beliefs and ideologies. Children aren’t born racist or xenophobic; they learn it from those around them, and we need to expose them to a different, more accepting atmosphere. The world has never been more connected than it is today, and we should use that connectivity to promote the values of unity and tolerance.
R: You also have a Postcard Exchange Network in motion, wherein you encourage youngsters to manually design postcards which are then posted to others across the world. How do you believe that this will inspire global understanding among the younger generations?
M: The Postcard Exchange Network was created to help children realise that, no matter where they live in the world, other children all love doing the same thing: playing sports, watching the television, listening to music, going out for dinner, and so many others. We wanted to use postcards to get children of the same age to communicate, tell each other what they love to do, and draw pictures of where they live—so that their peers can also get a taste of other cultures and ideologies. We could have united children through the internet, email, and Skype… but we wanted them to actually create something using their hands and innate creativity. We believe that receiving a postcard designed and written by someone in another country makes the whole project far more tangible—and will create great memories.
R: Postcards for Peace employs several Goodwill Ambassadors, such as myself. Why do you believe that they are important to your organisation, and how have they helped you grow?
M: Many of our ambassadors are from different countries, and are important because they help us reach new communities and cultures. They understand the people in that community better, and can hence talk to them about the work we are trying to do. On top of that, they are able to give us valuable feedback on the work we are doing—from different perspectives regarding age, culture, and background. The project would become very stale if it was just the same point of view speaking all the time; so, we ask our ambassadors to write blog posts for us so our followers can occasionally hear a different voice. In the future we hope to use our ambassadors more—by asking them to talk at schools or to report from areas we can’t reach ourselves.
R: You’ve also organised a very exciting Children’s Postcard Design Competition, whose deadline is on 22 July, 2016! Could you tell us more about it?
M:This is the third year that we are holding the Postcard Design Competition, and it always proves to be popular among children around the world. The theme this year is “Peace & Unity”, and we just want children to draw what that means to them. They don’t have to be great artists to take part—and in fact, they could just write a poem or a simple statement if they don’t feel comfortable with their drawing skills.
R: When Postcards for Peace was founded, I’m sure you had a vision of a global society in mind. What was this vision, and to what extent has it been fulfilled?
M: When I first started, I had just thought that it would be nice to sell some postcards and make money for charity. But it has grown into so much more than that, and we really hope to start helping change people’s perspectives and mentalities soon. We have reached our goal of connecting people from many different countries; but as we move forward, we realise that there are still so many other ventures that we would love to undertake with Postcards For Peace. Hence, I’m sure the goalposts will continue moving as well!