I arrived at the Peace Culture Village about two weeks ago and SO much has happened since then! The concept of the Peace Culture Village is constantly evolving but we are essentially developing a “peace training camp” in rural Hiroshima where people can come to live in international community and learn to implement peaceful practices like conflict resolution and permaculture into their daily lives. There are lots of places in the world (think conferences, seminars, classes) where you can learn about peace as a theoretical, abstract, intellectual concept. Instead, we use a hands-on, kinesthetic approach to make the pursuit of peace more relatable and achievable to average individuals who strive to live in harmony with the environment and with other people.
We are working on a website that should be up soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, please take a look at our Facebook page.
At the moment, the community at the Peace Culture Village includes me, Steve, and Elizabeth from the USA and Bei and Ryo from Japan. Steve is the visionary behind the PCV. He and his wife Elizabeth have been laying the groundwork for this project for the past two years. Bei is a recent graduate and Ryo a former volunteer at the Asian Rural Institute, where the both of them studied organic farming. They are the masterminds behind our organic farm.
Although our resident group is only five, we have visitors most days. Some stay for a week, others for a few days, some for just one night. We are not a guesthouse, so people that visit the PCV instantly become community members, and are expected to participate in community activities such as harvesting food, cleaning, construction, making trails, weeding, digging, cooking, etc. Some also contribute art, music, ideas, constructive criticism, etc. One great moment so far was when a Catholic atomic bomb survivor came to visit! I had such a wonderful conversation, and really treasured my time with him.
In addition to our visitors from outside Konu, we often have visitors from the local community who drop in unannounced, without even knocking (I’ve been told this is Japanese rural culture)! They come with food from their farms, to dish the daily gossip, to help us with our farm projects, or to play music with us (Steve and Elizabeth play the guitar and ukulele in the evenings sometimes). I really enjoy being in the midst of such a vibrant community!
The Peace Culture Village is all about…peace. Peace between people but also peace with nature. The water for our showers is heated by our solar panels. Our toilets don’t flush. They are basically holes in the ground but a little more fancy. Our farm is organic and we use as few chemicals as possible. Our water for drinking, washing, and irrigating comes from the mountain and is captured in our well. We use cleaning and hygiene products that are good for the environment, and try our best to purchase only local food.
Watch this video for a tour of ourfacilities (featuring yours truly).
Life at the Peace Culture Village is hard work! We are up by 7am to begin farm chores. Breakfast is at 8 and we have a community meeting at 8:30 where we discuss what needs to be done that day, and who is going to do what. For example, since I’ve arrived, we’ve harvested crops, built a greenhouse, built bamboo screens to keep leaves from falling into our water sources, turned a weedy patch of land into tillable soil, etc. We take turns making meals and doing household chores. We are working outside for 3-4 hours a day. Other time is spent cooking, eating, resting, and attending local events such as gate ball tournaments (looks like croquet but really isn’t), autumn festival at the local shrine, or a community mushroom hunt in the mountains!
The difference between war and peace is how we handle conflict. When conflicts come up at the Peace Culture Village, we talk about them. If someone thinks a person is not carrying their weight, feels insulted, or has a problem, we talk about that, openly and from the heart. At times there are miscommunications or misunderstandings, but after we talk about these issues we become a stronger community. In this way, we have been able to problem solve together.