350 – International Day of Climate Action – 24 October 2009

Hello everyone,

sorry for not having posted anything for so long. I finished my master thesis, which had kept me busy for a while.

350Today I am reviving the blog again and I would like to start by spreading the word about the International Day of Climate Action, which is taking place today!

350 advocates for lowering the level of CO2 below 350, which is the level necessary for our planet to breathe again.

Have a look:

It’s about time we change direction and take a step back.

Check their website to find a city near you where you can join one of the many initiatives and show the rest of the world that we do care!


Be safe and take initiative.

Nina Aeckerle


Diddy and Kutcher team up: Malaria No More


For the 4th of July P. Diddy and Ashton Kutcher teamed up to fight a forgotten killer: Malaria.

Diddy’s legendary White Party served as a reminder of how we can work against Malaria.

You can buy shirts from Comb’s Sean John Malaria No More Collection and for every shirt two bed nets will go to certain parts of Africa to help people protect themselves against the deadly mosquitos that carry Malaria.

Here is a special message from Ashton Kutcher:

Check out their website if you want to contribute: www.seanjohn.com/malarianomore

Peacebuilding initiatives like this are seem to be really effective in drawing the public’s attention to a good cause, but sometimes I wonder how long this interest lasts? Is it just a small publicity hype, or can the attention of these celebrities really make people aware of what is going on in other parts of the world?

NGOs have to ask themselves the same question: should they start advertising for peace? Should we turn something that is based on morals into something hot, sexy and flashy to catch attention?

Tell me what you think? Does it touch you if Diddy or Peter Gabriel or even the late Michael Jackson tell you to support their initiatives for peace?

Personally, I think it’s time to take the path that people are willing to follow. As long as it doesn’t go against one’s own values….

So, go ahead an contribute to the fight against Malaria!

Be in peace,

Nina Aeckerle

It’s not all bling bling

I want to kick off  the series hip hop meets poetry in a quest for peace with showing children and youth as victims with a slightly controversial topic: Hip hop.

What started out as a release of social grievances, frustration and anger, over the last decades to a big extent has turned into a lot of talk about bling, cars, girls and how those artists made it to the top. However, one can still find some songs that go below the surface and touch deeper issues, this type of hip hop is often referred to as conscious positive hip hop.

I would like to start with a song by Kanye West called Diamonds from Sierra Leone.

This video shows very well a number of things:

  • The exploitation of children in diamond mines in some parts of Africa,
  • The incredible circumstances and living situations these children are subdued to and
  • The incredible ignorance with which some people buy and wear diamonds.

To have a critical song like this come from the hip hop community might be an incentive for those who listen to it to be more aware of conflict diamonds, also called blood diamonds. What I hope for is that this song inspires people to check whether the diamonds they buy come from conflict regions. Currently there is no official system of certification in place, however it is known which areas of Africa are conflict diamond free and which have blood diamond mines. So knowing what region of Africa your diamonds come from can already give you a clue as to whether you have blood diamonds or not. Furthermore, there are two main certificates, one is the Canadian Certificate and the other is the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme that sets out to surveil the entire process: from mining for diamonds up to their sale.

Conflict-free diamonds on the other hand are diamonds whose profits are not used to fund wars and which are produced and mined under ethical conditions.

Please, if you think about buying your girlfriend a diamond ring, make sure they are not blood diamonds.

People are being abused in the process of mining for those diamonds! And the most vulnerable among them are the children. They experience extreme forms of violence, sickness, amputations and in many cases death. These children do not have the chance to a peaceful life, they are being used just like tools or machinery and are being thrown away, killed when becoming useless.

Let me ask one question: How cool can you be if what you wear on your hand is a token of the death and suffering of others?

Here is the remix of the song, which goes into more detail on the realisation that what some consume and buy and wear and enjoy and in some cases identify themselves with hurts and kills others.

What do you think about the song? Do you think it is an effective way to raise awareness of conflict diamonds and the way kids are being exploited in the process of getting to those diamonds? Are people really listening to the lyrics or are the beats more important than the content?

Leave me some comments and let me know if you have other good examples of conscious hip hop.

Next week on the hip hop meets poetry in a quest for peace: Mike Ellis – Mezeker

Check back with me soon for more of the series.

Nina Aeckerle

Hip hop meets poetry in a quest for peace

start peaceIn an earlier post, I have introduced you to the article The Unexplored Power and Potential of Youth as Peace-builders. It showed that youth can take up the powerful role of peacebuilders and can engage in creating positive social change. Today I will start a small series of posts on the topic of youth as peacebuilders but also on some of the other roles youth can play.

Through hip hop and poetry I will look at different topics, such as conflict diamonds, different conflicts from different perspectives, and many others.

Be ready to follow my first series on Take Your Initiative.

Nina Aeckerle

Michael Jackson – a peace activist dies

michael-jackson peace activist

A couple of nights ago Michael Jackson died.

The story of his life was both a miracle and a tragedy at the same time.

Young and incredibly talented he came to rapid success. The last years were rather coined by scandals, seemingly by loneliness but nevertheless an immovable admiration from his fans.

His success is indisputable. Be it in the way he made music or in his dance, it is clear that he revolutionized the music industry. He created his own style, his own way  and his influence on modern music – not only Pop, but also R&B, hip hop or even Rock – has been quite obvious and will be indisputable in the future.

I would like to mention two of his songs; both express his commitment to changing the world in a positive way.

The Earth Song

This song is a painful reminder of how humans have managed to treat each other and the planet we live on:

  • we consume
  • we waste
  • we brutalize
  • we torture, trouble and tantalize
  • we attack
  • we destroy
  • we beat, bite and scratch
  • we rape
  • we scar
  • we infect
  • we cause fear and tears
  • we hate

and the list could go on and on.

Michael Jackson’s song reminds us of what we can and should do:

  • we save
  • we create
  • we protect
  • we heal
  • we embrace
  • we love
  • we include and change for the better.

Not only with regards to humans but also with when it comes to animals, plants, nature: our planet. Our one and only planet.

Michael Jackson did not only plea for a different fate of the earth. For example together with Lionel Richie, he was responsible for USA for Africa and the song We are the World.

This song is an intent to bring different artists, such as Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen, Quincy Jones, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Wonder or Bob Dylan,  together in order to express their concern for current affairs and grievances.

It reminds us of a number of things:

  • there is need for change
  • we cannot continue the way we are going right now
  • and it is us who can change this world. Every single one of us can.

Of course one could go on analyzing some of the other songs of Michael Jackson, such as Black or White and many others: all of them with a deeper meaning that touches on social issues.

Drop me a comment, let me know what you think about those videos, whether you think it is a way to reach people, what could be changed in its expressions and approaches.

Until next time, peace.

Nina Aeckerle

What do Dirk Nowitzki and George Clooney have in common?

Many peace workers believe that in today’s day and age the only way to bring the topic of peace closer to the people is through selling it right. Adapting to the flashy, sexy market of the media is supposed to draw attention to and then create genuine interest in peace issues. But does that really work on this more profound level?

One strategy that supporters of this idea tend to follow is to have famous spokespersons for their cause. People like Bono from U2 or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are some of the more well-known representatives.

I would like to mention two other celebrities that got involved in promoting peace issues.
One is the German NBA star Dirk Nowitzki who starred in an anti drug commercial. Check it out.

Do you think that young people really listen more to Dirk than to their mother, when both have the same message? How much of a difference does it make that he is a famous basketball player? Decisions and opinions of famous people usually seem to have a big impact on the audience when it comes to consume, but how far does this influence go when morals and deeper values are concerned?


The other example I would like to mention is soap operas or TV series and how they can be a potential spaces for raising controversial issues. For the last season of ER George Clooney came back to give the series a twist. He was even supported by Susan Sarandon, who joined Clooney in an episode that dealt with organ donation. Sarandon played a grandmother, who in the end took the decision to have her grandson’s organs donated.

In many societies and cultures the body of a dead person is something sacred and donating still intact organs is seen as an act of desecration. At the same time the decision to donate in many cases saves lives. To address a topic that is so off-limits and in a way to promote this taboo decision can be very risky, since it might offend a lot of people. However, it generates discussion and makes people think about and maybe even reconsider their point of view.

Critics of this approach say that it is not a very sustainable one. They claim that when people watch TV they switch off their brain, because they perceive the time spent in front of the TV or on the internet as leisure time, time for relaxation and not necessarily for education. So according to these critics the message is not even really considered or evaluated as an incentive for change.

Another big argument that is usually brought up is that of: peace should be of genuine interest to people. Why do we have to hide it behind flashy ads or celebrities? People say peace is too important to have it depend on a good advertisement strategy.

But is that argument enough to dismiss an approach that could be partly successful?
What do you think? Can this way of reaching out really create genuine interest in peace issues and will people act afterwards for positive change?
Please share your point of view and leave some comments.

Nina Aeckerle

studying peace…


Finally, the studying peace page is up!!

There you can find heaps of universities that offer courses or master and doctoral programmes on peace, conflict and development issues.

Check it out