Peace in the 21st Century: Patrice Martin

Videography: Jean-Pierre Larroque, Production Coordination: Andrea Jovanovic, Interviewed by Jessica Chapman, Flat Earth Media

Is the idea of peace in the 21st century an idealistic vision or an achievable goal?

OEF recently asked that question to notable thinkers who research trends in violent conflict and other key drivers affecting global stability. Their responses are captured in the series, "Peace in the 21st Century." In this video, Patrice Martin explains how her work as a designer influences her thoughts on how to approach the advancement of peace.

Patrice Martin:

I have to believe that a peaceful planet is an achievable goal because I'm a designer and that means that I'm in the business that there are solutions to problems. If you don't take an optimistic stance, I don't think you're actually able to solve any of these problems. I come at it more from the emotional state or the energetic stance that you need to actually get us all on board to take on something as big as world peace. If we don't believe that we can do it, then we're not going to be able to do it.

In my work as a designer, what we do is create solutions that you didn't know existed before you started. There are just so many examples of this, of when you just start out and give yourself the permission to really be generative and explore lots of possibilities. You do get to some place that you hadn't thought of before. I go back to the previous point that if you don't believe that that's possible, you're never going to get there in the first place.

I'm a designer, I'm not an expert on this in terms of thinking of world dynamics and all of the structural changes that need to take place, but what's been so inspiring to me from this conversation is how much of the emotional and cultural issues have bubbled to the surface as a key component of the issues that we need to address. I believe that if we're not looking at what will motivate people, what will give people a sense that change is possible, what will allow us to move beyond our own state of apathy, that there's nothing that we can do but just kind of watch our world go by. 

Those are hugely important levers that have to be pulled and I think in the past, we've made the mistake of only looking at it from an analytical perspective. If we don't also look at it from an emotional and a cultural and an individual perspective, we're not going to get there. This conversation, like I said, has been really inspiring to me because it's been so present at the table.

There's been a lot of conversation around the need for a new narrative. How we identify with who we are and what we believe in and what we want to do when we get up in the morning, and the future that we want for our children. This is a whole work that can be crafted in a position of how we articulate our beliefs or how we articulate what we want to be.

There are tools that get used all the time to help us create messages and stories and positions out in the world. The private sector is very good at doing this. I mentioned this earlier, that we use the tools of brand to create really powerful narratives that don't often make it into the conversation space when we're talking about something as important as peace.

We know how to build brands and we know how to make messages resonate and “sticky”. I think that there is a ton of opportunity for us to say, "How can we, in a sense, re-brand peace or re-position peace by bringing people in and making this something that feels appropriate at their level, that it's a message that's delivered to an individual person around why this matters to you and what you can do about it?" Ultimately, those are the things that will get us to really move the needle on this issue.