Did you know that you can act to spread the message of peace locally in Eindhoven?
Ask anyone on the street to name some peace organizations and you will get many answers like “United Nations”, “International Peace Bureau”, “Flame of Peace” and closer to home in The Netherlands, “Peace Palace” in The Hague. Did you know, here in the city of Eindhoven, there is also a group of passionate individuals who want to spread the message of peace locally? They are part of the Eindhoven Peace Path initiative, literally building the necessary blocks towards world peace. This article introduces the Eindhoven Peace Path based on a series of interviews made with the people behind it.
The Eindhoven Peace Path is a public footpath in the Meerlandpark (Meerhoven) highlighting the themes World Peace, Sustainability and International Solidarity. It aims to have people think about peace in a natural environment and is represented by 8 peace components, thereby being the “building blocks” in the “path towards peace”. It saw its humble beginnings from founders Peter Schmid, Professor in Architecture in TU/e, and Piet Schram, Professor Doctor in Physics. They knew each other for a long time and were very involved in peace activities. While working at a factory in Dusseldorf as a building engineer, Prof Peter began questioning the methods in building and architecture. “I was confronting the negative ways of building in those days, how it exploited forests, energy sources, environment, health of people and even politics”, shared Prof Peter. “This is not the way I’d like to continue with architecture” he adds, so in 1965 he changed his approach to what we know today as sustainable architecture.
During the interview, Prof Peter discussed the ecosystem with a holistic, systems-view, always emphasizing harmonization of architecture with its associated elements – buildings, design, materials, environment, people, health etc. He called this a shift from Industrial Architecture to Peaceful Architecture. Piet adds, “There are many conflicts in the world, it is therefore very important to cultivate peace, starting from our surroundings”. This saw them founding the Peace Centre at TU/e in 1988, which evolved, in over the next 20 years, into the Eindhoven Peace Centre Foundation (EPCF). In 2010, the Municipality of Eindhoven allocated a footpath in the Meerlandpark as the Eindhoven Peace Path, which the VredesCentrum of EPCF oversees now. The footpath is being developed in the spirit of peaceful architecture. To date, 3 of the 8 components in the Peace Path have been completed. The remaining ones are to be developed in phases.
The team behind the VredesCentrum are volunteers passionate about peace, using their skills to develop the peace path to its fruition. “I am attracted to how people here want to put peace in the world”, says one volunteer, “I like the approach of science and peace and how the subject of peace touches people as part of our nature”, adds another. They see the peace path as a place bringing people together with thoughts of peace. At the moment, they are busy with developing the remaining components of the path, getting more people aware about it, and involving peace-related groups to hold activities at the location itself. “Everybody is welcome to use this space to think about peace”, invites Prof Peter. It could be a presentation about sustainability, the refugee situation, or environmental issues; it could also be a session of yoga, taichi, music or meditation; it could certainly be a place for a peaceful walk with your family and friends – the possibilities are limitless.
As a volunteer-driven effort, the goal to ultimately connect this footpath with other peace parks in the world is ambitious but definitely achievable. This year’s activity plan has been drawn out, and will be aligned with The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (number 16: peace and justice). For this, the VredesCentrum also receives support from the Municipality of Eindhoven. The Eindhoven Peace Path can still benefit from extra support in the community. There are many ways you can contribute to this project. If you would like to volunteer, they are looking for people who are handy with gardening or skilled with public relations (communications, social media). If you have a peace-related activity to hold, you may contact them to arrange one. If you would like to give a donation, you may do so via their website. Lastly, you are always welcome to have a walk in nature at the Eindhoven Peace Path, so see you there soon!
For Eindhoven News: Joyce Fong