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Ground breaking project learns from the past

Partners at the first meeting in Brescia featuring David Evans from Mi-gen, a Lancaster partner on the project.
Partners at the first meeting in Brescia featuring David Evans from Mi-gen, a Lancaster partner on the project.

A ground-breaking new European community peace heritage project led by Global Link in Lancaster is launched this week in Brescia, Italy.

‘Learning from the Past (so that we are not condemned to forget it)’ is a development of Global Link’s Heritage Lottery-funded project ‘Sowing the Seeds of Global Citizenship.’

The project is working with adult research volunteers in seven European countries, who will research local historic activity in relation to peace and internationalism post World War I.

Dr. Alison Lloyd Williams, the Global Link Project Co-ordinator said, ‘World War 1 was the first time many Europeans had travelled to other countries. Combined with the horror of war, there was a huge appetite for peace, and a recognition that getting to know people from ‘the other side’ might break down some of the barriers to peace. This new European project is an exciting development as each country’s experience of World War 1 and its aftermath is very different, and we look forward to the range of perspectives this project will uncover.’

Adult community heritage volunteers will use oral histories, local archives, museums and other institutions in Romania, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Hungary and Poland to research local history relating to peace and internationalism.

They will document this learning through an online map which already features over 250 entries produced in Global Link’s earlier project (http://www.documentingdissent.org.uk/dd-map/).

They will also share these little known histories with young people in each country, who will then create films, theatre and visual art in response to this learning, linking it with contemporary issues of conflict and peace in Europe today.

The research in the original ‘Sowing the Seeds of Global Citizenship’ project contributed to the entries on the online map, which highlight extraordinary but now little known people, organisations and events from the period such as: the grassroots work of the League of Nations Union; the development of global citizenship education in schools, including the development of Esperanto; internationalist trades union activity; women’s peace activism including the Peacemakers’ Pilgrimage and key local figures such as Selina Cooper from Nelson; the growing importance of film and radio media in promoting a global view of the world; the work of national and international peace movements such as the No More War Movement and War Resisters’ International; the role of art and literature in the anti-war movement; and the backdrop of significant international and national events such as the founding of the League of Nations, the increase in the UK franchise and the UK Peace Ballot.

Gisela Renolds, Global Link’s Director said, ‘In this time of increasing racism and xenophobia and the challenge to European values of internationalism, human rights, peace and social justice, understanding the past is crucial to our attempts to ensure that something like the Holocaust never happens again.’

The two year project is funded by Erasmus + to the tune of Euro 232,516 or £196,708.