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A journey of reflection and handicraft to play with and think about Peace with children

The caravan of the Peaceful

A place called ‘peace’ is like a mirage in the desert: it invites us to reach it and then vanishes when we think we are approaching it.

As always, though, we are interested more in the journey than in the destination.

This is why we immediately endorsed the idea launched by Roberto Papetti in 2015, at the Casa delle Arti e del Gioco (House of Arts and Play) in Drizzona, Italy, on the first commemoration of Mario Lodi’s death: to “invade” school courtyards and public squares with growing caravans of cutouts representing peaceful people, I PACIFICI.

The Peaceful

with Roberto Papetti

During the Iraq War, struck by the way children perceived the images of the bombings and other acts of war, I decided to set up an exhibition of peace toys.

Through the ludic poking fun at some toy guns, I wanted to encourage a reflection on the terrible tragedy of war events and on the need to think about and build peace.

At the same time, I wanted these toys to be experienced with the lighthearted levity of play.

Overtime I started to make toys and give them to children to trigger good thoughts. The day I read the poem by Borges, I discovered a new path of work, shall we say, both poetic and philosophical.

I saw ordinary people as bearers of peace, doing their duty, working on themselves to become valuable for of others.

I thus decided to make figurines out of the characters described in the poem and turn them into little peace troops: thinking toys, in a sense.

The Just

Jorge Luis Borges

A man who cultivates his garden, as Voltaire wished.

He who is grateful for the existence of music.

He who takes pleasure in tracing an etymology.

Two workmen playing, in a cafe in the South, a silent game of chess.

The potter, contemplating colour and form.

The typographer who set this page well, though it may not please him.

A woman and a man, who read the last tercets of a certain canto.

He who strokes a sleeping animal.

He who justifies, or wishes to justify, a wrong done to him.

He who is grateful for the existence of Stevenson.

He who prefers others to be right.

These people, unknowingly, are saving the world.


Pilot project with Luciana Bertinato

When we listen to children working together, small words become big.  It becomes possible, then, to imagine a new world, to reject war and build peace.

What if, instead of killing,

you tried to topple me?”

“Topple you? It’s a novel idea

to hit without hurting!”

(Mario Lodi – Il soldatino del Pim Pum Pà)

He who plays hide and seek and zombiesweet without leaving anybody out.

He who strokes a kitten and tends to a rabbit.

He who uses words that are kind and good.

A little girl who is happy with what she’s got.

He who sorts out the rubbish and doesn’t waste bread.

A little boy who exchanges cards with fairness, and sometimes gives the double ones to a friend.

He who is happy to play the cajon in a ramshackle orchestra.

He who walks his little dog, early in the morning.

A child who is friendly with the trees and the river.

He who digs up holes and tunnels in the ground, leaving earthworms alone.

He who makes a little book with his own hands and writes secrets in it.

He who accepts children that are different.

A little girl who is happy that there is music on earth so that we can sing made up songs.

He who sows nasturtium and radish seed in little pots and then waits, patiently.

He who is happy to know Mario Lodi’s books, the rigmaroles by Gianni Rodari, Gianfranco Zavalloni’s snails, Roberto Papetti’s toys, Emanuela Bussolati’s drawings.

These children, knowingly, are saving the world.

The Ladybirds, 3° A

We start by reading the poem “The Just” by J. L. Borges and end the journey with the creation of a group of figurines that will form a caravan of The Peaceful, characters that convey the value of Peace.

Here are the steps of the pilot project carried out by The Ladybirds  –  3rd year class, of the Primary School of Soave, near Verona.

  1. Starting from the daily life of each child, we talk about relationships, about calm conversation and arguments, heavy and light words, duties and rights. 
  2. We look for ways to find positive solutions to conflicts, to accept diversity and live well with ourselves and others.
  3. After reading the poem “The Just”, we write a thought, a wish, an emotion.
  4. Each child creates his or her peaceful character, starting from a cardboard cutout.  Characterisation with colours and drawings is free. Children arrange their cutouts  and reflect on the relationships that might develop according to how there are placed (class, group, company, together, choir, orchestra, circle, gang, team, assembly, community…)
  5. Each child writes an individual, short poetic phrase, to be inserted in a collective poem, following the example of the poem “The Just”.
  6. Photographs are taken to document the group of The Peaceful on the school premises and in other settings, in places frequented by children or where there have been conflicts in the past (streets, squares, the park, the river, the city gates, the city walls, the castle…)

The experience is published on websites and media, to share it with the greatest possible number of people and organisations and propagate peace thoughts with simplicity and mildness.