The Problem with Peace & Dialogue Projects: Good intentions aren't good enough

We've learned a lot from doing things the wrong way, and from over half a decade of field testing our ideas all over the world. Here's the blunt truth that we've discovered. There are a lot of well intentioned intercultural communication, peace-building, and conflict resolution projects out there, but let's face it, most of them fail to deliver much beyond the short term encounters that they facilitate. Maybe they offer a few "impact" numbers in their reports, but typically these indicators don't actually translate to much on the ground or suggest anything concrete that's accessible to the general public. What's more, these encounters often come with hefty travel and accommodation budgets, tend to connect cultural elites (those who speak English or who happen to have the right local connections), and offer little in the way of outputs that reach the general public. We've learned a lot from doing things the wrong way. How did we know we were getting it wrong? By listening to the feedback of our participants from all over the world. Needless to say it's an endlessly humbling process if you want to get it right.

What we've learned:

1. All programming should seek an impact on three levels: interpersonal, local community, international audience.

2. As a participant-driven initiative our programing should constantly evolve in response to our participant-producers. 

3. Have a concrete output that is accessible to everyone, including those who don't directly participate in our programming

How we do it:

If you want to learn all of the details of how our interactive curriculum functions we invite you to get in touch directly. But here's the general idea...

The Virtual Dinner Guest Project facilitates interpersonal connections through our dinner table discussions, and through direct engagement with the local communities through our collaborative film projects. We see street-filmmaking as much more than a process that focuses on a product. In many ways the filmmaking element is an excuse, a mechanism that gets people out on the streets and interacting with the diverse elements of their own communities.

All street interviews are conducted in the local language so that we the films we create are representative of all cultures and classes. For some of our projects in India this meant conducting street interviews in 5 languages simultaneously. It's not easy, but it's an essential part of our philosophy that all voices be represented.

And finally, the end product, the pair of student films that result from each of our collaborations are posted here and on our Vimeo channel, and shared by our partners, our participants, and by YOU, so that we can bring the unfiltered voices from streets all over the world to a global audience. Just by watching and sharing our content you are helping to create a movement.

Want to get more directly involved? 

If you are interested in getting your community, university course, small media outlet, or civil society organization involved in our programming you can contact us by email at the bottom of this page, and follow us on social media.


And be sure to check out our Amsterdam-based parent nonprofit, Open Roads Media!