Message of Peace from Dublin

Last week, I was in Dublin where OWD collaborated with Bluefire Dublin and Splattervan to work with a group of recently arrived refugees from the Bradog group. This group was made up of 12 youth ages 15-17 years from various countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo, Nigeria, Sudan, Albania, Romnia, North Korea and elsewhere. We held a six hour workshop where we used creative facilitation methods and visual thinking strategies to open up a dialogue with the youth to talk about what peace means to them and their message to their new community in Dublin. 

It was an amazing day! The youth started off shy and like most teenagers, hesitant to be enthusiastic and open. After spending some time with them, they opened up and shared really interesting ideas about peace, even though some were with extremely limited English. This was an opportunity for them to share their own ideas in a conducive and positive environment to showcase their creative work at the Bluefire Street Festival held last Saturday, September 17, 2016. 

The group created a graffiti piece on 8x8 foot wood board (picture above). They decided to write out peace in their different languages and drew "hands" demonstrating openness but also a symbol to stop violence and racism. 

Following are some quotes about peace from the group:
- "peace is life" 
- "if you have no peace, you can't make any can't make cannot succeed" 
- "if you don't have peace, you are not a alive" 
- "peace is harmony" 

At the Bluefire Street Festival, local kids came out and shared their message of peace, using stencils created by the Bradog group earlier in the week, and leaned about the work of OWD. Surprisingly, some local youth also created a graffiti piece which they wanted to share with the community aligned with the work we are doing. 

It was great to see how the work we've started in Ottawa translates well across borders and the concept of our work is resonating with people across cultures and countries. 

Hope you have a great International Peace Day 2016 and do one small act of peace/kindness this week. 

Best wishes

President, One World Dialogue

Ottawa Peace Talks

One World Dialogue is proud to be supporting the Ottawa Peace Talks: Let's build peace through diversity. 

Organized under the theme "Let's build peace through diversity", the Ottawa Peace Talks aims to inspire reflection and discussion about how respect for diversity can promote more peaceful societies through inclusion, both in Canada and globally. 

This event marks the first time the Peace Talks are held in Canada. Speakers coming from diverse backgrounds will share their personal experiences, stories and ideas to highlight the importance of building peace through broad and diverse participation. The Ottawa Peace Talks will also look at the role of individual Canadians, and Canada as a while, to support greater inclusion for peace at home and at the global level.



Breaking Barriers Exhibition - What it's about

On September 20, 2014, One World Dialogue in collaboration with the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum present the exhibition Breaking Barriers. This exhibition is the second year the two organizations have collaborated to mark International Peace Day (September 21). While this is the fourth year One World Dialogue continues to build this exhibition around Peace Day and working with the arts community in Ottawa for peace dialogue, it is an exciting year with the Diefenbunker to explore an aspect of history and intriguing theme!

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This exhibition explores through visual art, interpretations, expressions and lessons learned of breaking barriers and the symbolism of the Berlin Wall in its efforts for peace. For One World Dialogue, working with the Diefenbunker and connecting peace to the Cold War context has provided the opportunity to delve deeper into areas of peace dialogue that can connect generations and diverse sets of contexts. One World Dialogue aims to build a culture of peace. The organization is dedicated to re-thinking how social challenges are solved through art, design and the process of integrative thinking to build strong, integrated and vibrant communities.

 Breaking Barriers is displayed within the Bank of Canada Vault in the Diefenbunker. For One World Dialogue, a major part of the organization’s work is to design and transform spaces to build dialogue and peace in communities. Seeing how for the second year the Bank of Canada Vault can be transformed from what normally may feel like a cold, damp, empty place once built to store the gold reserves of Canada, can be completely transformed into a colourful space for creativity and cultural innovation.

 For the exhibition, six artists were brought into the team in early 2014 to commission pieces for the exhibition. The artists include: Sarah Barbary, Carol Howard Donati, Jaime Koebel (curating with: Howard Adler, Heather Campbell, Rebekah Elkerton, Peter Purdy, and Tim Yearington), Randolf McMillan, Marie-Paule Thorn, and Sandy Woods.

Within this exhibition each artist explored the theme from a different perspective. The purpose is to explore how through visual art and the storytelling of various artists representing different ‘voices’ in our community can connect with the idea of breaking barriers for peace. Randolf McMillan has direct connections to the Berlin Wall as an artist who painted on the Wall before and after it was taken down. Sarah Barbary explores through animation how the next generation may explore this theme in today’s context and through a modern lens. Sandy Woods walks us through personal connections to peace and how to build peace through a series called Positive Peace. Carol Howard Donati takes a unique exploration of breaking barriers through historical research and personal stories from the Cold War to messages on food security as present day challenges to global peace – all presented via textile art using recycled plastics, fabrics and dying techniques. Marie-Paule Thorn takes visitors on a vibrant journey of interpreting images form the Berlin Wall and the playfulness of youth open to your own interpretations. Finally, local Aboriginal artists, curated by Jaime Koebel, share Canadian stories of connecting peace to our natural surroundings, the voice and protection of women in our communities, the challenges around identity and hope for Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

In addition to the amazing art and stories created by our artists, One World Dialogue and the Diefenbunker worked with youth in the Ottawa area over the summer of 2014 to engage in dialogue on breaking barriers to peace. The groups included: CHEO School, Manotik Public School, H’Art of Ottawa, Taggart Family YMCA, Odawa Native Friendship Centre and Miwaashin Lodge.

This journey brought us into a number of schools and community groups to lead a visual thinking workshop centered on dialogue. Using photos of graffiti art from the Berlin Wall, before and after the fall, we asked the question: If there was a wall between you and peace, what would you write or draw on it?

 Visual thinking is a way to open up dialogue and create a safe space for learning and sharing, a space without barriers! Each group discussed the ideas of walls and barriers, from tangible barriers like the Berlin Wall that divided a country, to intangible barriers of ideology, perception, ability and culture. The workshops inspired a greater dialogue, demonstrating the power of alternative, creative learning as the mechanism to empower youth in the community.

These programs were inspiring and demonstrated how, when given an opportunity, young minds are ready and willing to delve deep and creatively into all subjects. Some moments that stand out in particular are, when a kid in grade 5 walked up and bluntly shared ‘peace is relative’, seeing how kids who normally do not speak up in class feel they have a voice worth sharing, the pride youth have in creating messages about peace through art to be displayed in the exhibition or hearing the messages that come out from groups with developmental disabilities expressing the need to more understanding, less bullying, respect and more – not only demonstrate that peace is relevant, but that there is more work to be done in providing power to more people to express their ideas and build a culture of peace. 

EMC Ottawa Article: Cold War museum to celebrate peace; Barrhaven artist explores theme of breaking barriers

August 21, 2014

Jennifer Mcintosh, Metroland

Sandy Woods, a mixed media artist from Barrhaven, is pictured with Rohini Bhalla, president of One World Dialogue, and her painting Perseverance. Woods will have four pieces in an upcoming exhibit at the Diefenbunker museum called Breaking Barriers.

Ottawa East News

By Jennifer Mcintosh

Local artists and youth will come together to talk about peace at Canada's cold war museum on Sept. 20.

For the fourth year, an organization called One World Dialogue, which seeks to discuss peace through artists and interpretative means, will hold an art exhibit.

The organization has partnered with the Diefenbunker and will showcase the work of six artists and local children in the Bank of Canada vault.

This year's theme is breaking barriers, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Rohini Bhalla, president of One World Dialogue, said the partnership was named a finalist in last year's Tourism Ottawa awards.

"There's something really poignant in talking about peace in a building that was designed to hold the country's gold reserves in the case of a nuclear attack," she said, adding the exhibit will run until the end of January 2015.

Sandy Woods, a Barrhaven-based mixed media artist, has been working with One World Dialogue for the last four years.

As part of her work, she went to Manotick Public School to help a Grade 4/5 class work on a one-by-twometre panel, depicting the fall of the wall, and working on the breaking barriers theme.

Woods' four artworks for the show are entitled Courage, Perseverance, Acceptance and Harmony. Bhalla said One World intentionally gave the artists a lot of leeway with the theme to foster the conversation about peace.

Aside from the students at Manotick Public School, Bhalla said organizers also worked with children at Odawa Native Friendship Centre and Minwaashin Lodge and developmentally delayed kids from the YWYMCA.

"We wanted to show different perspectives," she said. Woods said her experience with the kids in Manotick was interesting because the kids took gave it a lot of thought and had an interesting perspective on the topic.

"Parents often think their kids won't have anything to say about peace, but they often have a lot of input," Bhalla said, adding the school's character education curriculum that talks about respect and bullying ties in well with the peace theme.

The exhibit will open with a vernissage and performance on Sept. 20 at 2 p.m.


Note: Correction - we worked with the Taggart Family YW-YMCA with kids ages 3-12 in the summer camp programs, as well as, H'Art of Ottawa and the CHEO School. 

OWD Finalist for Ottawa Tourism Partnership of the Year Award!

In April 2014, One World Dialogue and the Diefenbunker Museum: Canada's Cold War Museum were a finalist for an Ottawa Tourism Partnership of the Year Award for our Building Peace Exhibition held from September 2013-January 2014. We are honoured to be recognized for our work and for this community effort and perspective of peace building be recognized among such prestigious organizations in Ottawa. 

Call To Action - Million Acts of Peace

(originally posted September 21, 2013) 

Blog post written by Rohini Bhalla, Founder of One World Dialogue and 2013 Delegate at One Young World Summit ( 

International Day of Peace 2013: Call to Action

Delegate from Canada, Rohini Bhalla, on the Day of Peace and creating a movement for peace. Follow Rohini (@rohini_bhalla) and One World Dialogue (@OneWorldD) on Twitter.

September 21 marks the International Day of Peace (a.k.a “Peace Day”).  Peace Day allows for collective individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace together.  The purpose of Peace Day is to develop a specific day and collaborative focus on worldwide peace and encourage all of humanity to work in cooperation for this goal.

The first Peace Day was celebrated in September 1982 on the opening day of the General Assembly and in 2002 September 21 was officially declared as the permanent annual day for Peace Day.

The United Nations General Assembly, in 1981, by unanimous vote, adopted Resolution 36/67, which established the International Day of Peace (IDP) “…to devote a specific time to concentrate the efforts of the United Nations and its Member States, as well as the whole of mankind, to promoting the ideals of peace and to giving positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all viable ways.”

Albert Einstein said: “Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved through understanding.” For me, this is a powerful statement and one, which I am sure many youth around the world can connect with. 

Many things become clear through the diverse range of issues being raised by One Young World in advance of the Summit in Johannesburg, and the range of other international debates on development. Most notably, it is evident that we currently live in a time of global uncertainty and chaos, constant change, ever-increasing speed and vast complexity.  Our world is becoming more knowledge intensive, fast-paced, interconnected and multi-cultural. 

Not only is it a challenge to keep pace with these changing environments, but also the idea that we are responsible for the world’s most imperative social issues is daunting, to say the least.  Should this uncertainty and these challenges take over the possibilities for change, advancement and the power of youth coming together?

I started a non-profit organization, One World Dialogue (OWD), in 2010 with the goal of bringing peace to the center of conversation, as the driving force for change.  OWD aims to build a culture of peace through the promotion of dialogue and integrative thinking. Many organizations are engaged now, doing great work in the effort of raising awareness of Peace Day and getting people to be more peaceful. 

OWD’s Peace Project is embarking on a journey to explore and unleash the possibilities of peace as the mechanism to building strong, vibrant and integrated communities.  OWD aims to do this by empowering people with the outlets to have a voice, take action and learn.OWD will create and provide the tools for people, organizations and communities to build a culture of peace. 

OWD and I truly believe that dialogue and thought-leadership are central to social problem solving.  Using the model of integrative thinking, OWD provides the platform through which idea generation, thinking and action can coalesce to build a culture of peace.  By promoting open and honest dialogue we can engage people in a way that will allow us to examine traditional issues through an alternate perspective and ultimately create sustainable and scalable solutions.

Inspired by the action and dedication of everyone associated with One Young World, I urge you to take action on September 21 for Peace Day and create change.   On September 21, 2013 One World Dialogue is launching a social media campaign called One Million Acts of Peace.  We want you to think and act on peace.  Share your ideas of peace, what you have done to create it (big or small) and inspire others to do the same.  Who said one person cannot create change?  Each person counts! One person, one act, times many acts, can create big change! 

The purpose behind the Million Acts of Peace campaign is to use technology as a driving force to connect anyone in the world, share your ideas, actions and motivate others to do the same.  It takes you and your action to make this work and get this campaign moving forward. 

On September 21, think of your act of peace, it can be as simple as a small act of kindness to help someone out, a work of art to express an idea of peace, or as large as working on major efforts through groups/organizations in your community or country.  All acts count and this will start the movement.  It will demonstrate that acts are occurring everyday and it takes the motivation of everyone to create peace, not just nation states.

Fellow delegates, Ambassadors, Counsellors, leaders, friends and family from anywhere, OWD and I encourage you to take part and demonstrate how one simple act that starts with you, one person, can create BIG change!

Go to our website, join us on Twitter or Facebook on September 21 and beyond, to kick-start this movement and demonstrate how youth and anyone, anywhere, can join together in building a more peaceful world.

CBC: Would You Live Here?

(originally posted August 11, 2011)

CBC's The National presented an in depth look at the new ways Canadians are choosing to live, and live together. Two examples of how design can bring people and communities together and innovative ways to live.

Cohousing, such as Cranberry Commons in British Columbia, is creating a new kind of co-operative community.

Container homes may be the cheap and surprisingly cheerful new trend of living in shipping containers.

Visit: for more information and a look at CBC's series: Would You Live Here?


NYC: 50 Ideas for the New City

(originally posted May 26, 2011)


UrbanOmnibus: 50 Ideas for the New City

The Omnibus is all about ideas. From the beginning, Urban Omnibus has been a showcase of good ideas for the future of cities, conceived in the public interest and tried and tested in the five boroughs of New York. Our ongoing commitment to that is part of why we jumped at the chance to participate in and help organize the Festival of Ideas for the New City, coming up soon from May 4-8. The Festival aims to harness the power of the creative community to imagine the future city and explore ideas that will shape it. It’s a perfect fit. So, to coincide with the event, we have decided to surface some of the ideas that have appeared on Urban Omnibus over the past two years and broadcast them around the city.

"The Omnibus is all about ideas. From the beginning, Urban Omnibus has been a showcase of good ideas for the future of cities, conceived in the public interest and tried and tested in the five boroughs of New York. Our ongoing commitment to that is part of why we jumped at the chance to participate in and help organize the Festival of Ideas... The Festival aims to harness the power of the creative community to imagine the future city and explore ideas that will shape it. It’s a perfect fit. So, to coincide with the event, we have decided to surface some of the ideas that have appeared on Urban Omnibus over the past two years and broadcast them around the city."

The Festival of Ideas for the New City was held in New York City this year from May 4th to 8th. The aim of the festival was to “harness the power of the creative community to imagine the future city and explore ideas that will shape it”. The UrbanOmnibus (a project by the Architectural League of New York) was one participating member of the festival. Visit there website to learn more about there poster campaign to broadcast their ideas across NYC. OWD supports (amongst others) Idea No. 12: Use Public Space to Share Ideas and Start a Conversation.

Approach: Making Little Bets

(originally posted May 25, 2011)

"At the core of this experimental approach," Sims writes, "little bets are concrete actions taken to discover, test, and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable. They begin as creative possibilities that get iterated and refined over time, and they are particularly valuable when [one is] trying to navigate amid uncertainty, create something new, or attend to open-ended problems. When we can't know what's going to happen, little bets help us learn about the factors that can't be understood beforehand." 

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Ideas is a new book by Peter Sims. The premise of the book is how to place little bets which are “concrete actions to discover, test, and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable”. The book is not only intended for entrepreneurs and applicable to designers, but is appropriate for all who require creative approaches to solving problems. Read a review of the book at Change Observer.