Peace Blogs

How Weird celebrates 50 years of inspirational counterculture


On May 7, 2017, a unique gathering of the tribes will occur in downtown San Francisco for a Celebration of Peace. It will be the 18th How Weird Street Faire, the World Peace Through Technology Organization’s annual peace event. Tens of thousands of people will fill the streets, dancing at the eleven stages of world-class electronic music, enjoying spectacular performances, partaking in fantastic foods, visiting unique vendors, experiencing visionary art, inspired by awesome creativity, and learning at peace technology exhibits.

The How Weird Street Faire will take place from Noon to 8pm. The faire is centered at Howard and 2nd Streets in San Francisco, the heart of the art and technology centers of the city. The theme for 2017 is “Summer of Weird”, paying tribute to the cultural pioneers that inspired us and paved the way forward. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, a time of great change, and an explosion of creative culture here in San Francisco. Love and peace were celebrated then, as now. How Weird brings people together in unity, to generate waves of joy and expand our consciousness. Costumes and an open mind are encouraged. Leave your fear behind.

The SF Oracle proclaimed in 1967, “A new concept of celebrations must emerge, become conscious, and be shared, so a revolution can be formed with a renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.” Our need for love is growing again as today’s youth attempt to find solutions to the greed, corruption, hatred, violence, and separatism around us.

The Human Be-In on January 14, 1967 became the template for a new type of conscious event, inspiring the evolution of music and art festivals, beginning with the Summer of Love and leading directly to the How Weird Street Faire. How Weird is proud to continue the great San Francisco tradition of taking culture further.

The conservative British newspaper Financial Times, in an August 12, 2016 article titled “Were the Hippies Right?”, wrote, “Was it mere coincidence that the centre of hippie culture became, a couple of decades later, one of the world’s wellsprings of technological innovation? Did Haight-Ashbury inexorably lead to Silicon Valley? The epochal social changes of that era inspired a range of cultural initiatives that led, in various shapes and forms, to the world in which we live today. There is a bond between the creative spirit of San Francisco in the late 1960s, and that of today.” Steve Jobs once observed the reason for this innovation, “What is not normal is normal here.” How Weird is the modern epicenter for all things not normal in San Francisco.

The How Weird Street Faire is a project of the nonprofit World Peace Through Technology Organization, showing the world that peace is possible. After half a century, peace is needed more than ever.

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Human Libraries educate us about each other


The Human Library is a new way of challenging prejudices through conversation. Human Libraries are an international movement that use social contact to break down barriers and discrimination. They use the language and mechanism of a library to facilitate respectful interactions that can positively change people’s attitudes and behaviors towards members of communities who are at risk of exclusion and marginalization. The Human Library is where difficult questions are expected, appreciated, and answered. In spite of all the violence and conflict taking place in the world today, the Human Library is a simple way for people from all different demographics to sit down together and have an open exchange of ideas and perspectives.

Human Libraries

Just like in a real library, a visitor to a Human Library can choose a Book from a range of titles. The difference is that the "Books" are people, and instead of reading there is a conversation. Social contact is known to be among the best ways to challenge prejudice, and the Human Library enables it to flourish. The Human Library provides a safe environment for people to engage in conversation within a framework of respect, and with permission to respectfully ask questions and share experiences. The dialogue that the Human Library facilitates has the potential to challenge prejudice, stigma, and discrimination. Some of the popular Book titles are Muslim, Refugee, Gay, Transgender, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Young Black Male, Handicapped, Blind, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Downs Syndrome, Recovering Alcoholic, Teenage Mother, Substance Abuser, Unemployed, Autistic, Learning Disability, Facial Disfigurement, Obese, and Homeless.

In practice, the Human Library celebrates the diversity of our communities, raises awareness of many different reasons people may experience exclusion, and takes positive action to address some of the issues that can lead to bullying, abuse, and hate crime. Book titles deliberately acknowledge and provoke the assumptions and common prejudices that we, or society, may have. Readers are empowered to choose from a broad range of titles, and challenged to engage with the people behind the labels. The experience generates instant appeal and is a practical way to engage the public with big issues such as equality, diversity, and human rights. The Human Library is easy to organize because it not expensive to produce. The biggest ressources needed to facilitate a Human Library are time and volunteers, which has made it possible to stage events in a wide range of countries, including Denmark, Romania, Iceland, Poland, Italy, Holland, Slovenia, Belgium, Portugal, Israel, Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Human Library checkout table

The first Human Library was created for the 2000 Roskilde Music Festival by a group of Danish activists who formed in response to a violent hate crime. Their idea was to use the language and mechanism of a library to facilitate conversations that challenge prejudice, thereby reducing the risk of tension and violence. In 2008, the Human Library Organization was formed in Copenhagen. From there, the creators and founders of the Human Library Organization have helped the movement to grow steadily across the world. It is currently active in over 70 countries.

The story of the Human Library really begins in 1993, when five teenagers - Ronni Abergel, Erich Kristoffersen, Asma Mouna, Thomas Bertelsen, and Dany Abergel - created a Youth NGO called Stop The Violence. Their inspiration to form Stop The Violence was motivated by the brutal stabbing of a mutual friend in Copenhagen. They sought to reduce youth violence and challenge some of the negative stereotypes of young people in Denmark that had surrounded the reporting of their friend’s attack. By 2000, Stop the Violence had over 30,000 members and had organized a range of engagement and awareness-raising activities across Denmark. Then Leif Stov, the Director of the Roskilde Festival, asked Stop The Violence to create an activity that would challenge prejudice, encourage dialogue, and build positive relationships between festival-goers at the 2000 Roskilde Festival. Ronni Abergel, Asma Mouna, and Christoffer Erichsen created the "Human Library" - an event where different sub-cultures and groups that are often hostile to one another could connect, engage, and converse. They recruited so many volunteers from the festival-goers that the first ever Human Library featured 75 Human Books. "I figured that if we could make people sit down with a group attached to a certain stigma they don't like or even know about for that matter, we could diminish violence," explains Ronni Abergel.

The only permanent reoccurring Human Library event has been in operation since the fall of 2014. More than ten events have been organized at Denmarks biggest library, the Copenhagen Central Library, and the events are continuing to happen. Readers are invited to choose between more than 25 titles published from the Copenhagen Human Library Book Depot. The services of the Human Library are always free to Readers.

Human Library in Denmark

The Human Library in Copenhagen, Denmark featuring a handicapped "Book".

The Human Library is made up of Human Books, which are people who volunteer to challenge prejudice and stereotype through respectful conversation with members of the public. By volunteering, Books give their permission for people at a Human Library event to ask questions about their life, and to talk openly about prejudice, stereotype, and discrimination. With the help of their Organizer they choose a Book title that directly relates to the prejudice, stereotype, or stigma that they want to challenge, such as issues related to asethnicity, sex, age, disability, sexual preference, gender identity, religion/belief, lifestyle, or other aspects. They receive training beforehand where they have the opportunity to meet other Books from different backgrounds, learn how the Human Library works in practice, and explore the potential questions people could ask. Although the role of the Book might appear to be similar to storytelling, the Human Books are not storytellers. The Human Library encourages active and engaging conversations, rather than storytelling. Books are encouraged to ask as many questions as Readers, and sometimes the Books will ask the first questions. This could be as simple as "Why did you choose me?" or "What did you expect me to look like?"

Human Library shelf of Books

Don't judge a book by its cover.

Many individual or societal prejudices are based on stereotypes or lack of knowledge. Sometimes our opinions and attitudes are based upon prejudices that we might be unaware that we have. Think about the first thing that comes to mind when you encounter terms such as "Schizophrenic", "Drug Addict", "Transgender", "HIV+",  or "Asylum Seeker". It is likely that all of our responses will be influenced to some degree by pre-existing ideas. It is only by reflecting the diversity of our communities that the Human Library can effectively challenge prejudices.

Inclusion is of vital importance because the Human Library supports all groups, communities, and individuals who experience discrimination. The Human Library does not highlight a single issue or cause because they believe that prejudice and discrimination has to be challenged in the widest possible context. That is why Human Books are recruited from a wide-range of backgrounds to represent and potentially challenge the multiple prejudices and stereotypes that can be experienced. This is not only a powerful statement of inclusion, it allows for a wide-range of social contact between the volunteers and Readers, exposing them to different experiences and perspectives.

Choice is a vital component of the Human Library. Readers must be given a choice from a range of titles. This is why the mechanism of a library was chosen, and why the Human Library is so effective. Not all Readers will be aware of their own prejudices, let alone motivated to publicly declare and challenge them.

It is important these days to understand what life looks like through another's eyes, which leads to empathy and encourages compassion. The Human Library is a powerful step towards peace.

The Human Library


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Music is a path to peace


When two people are in conflict, they are focused on what separates them. During war, there is a divide between people that makes it difficult to relate to each other. If there was some way to bridge that divide and find a way for opposing people to understand each other, then there would be a path towards peace. There are ways, and one of them is music.

Music is one of the few things that all people can relate to and appreciate. Music makes us human. It is a fundamental part of our lives. Music is found in all cultures and all nations, from the very beginning of our history. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, "Music is the universal language of mankind." Music has an amazing ability to bridge divides between people. Music can increase empathy and teach us how to relate to others. Music can directly lead to peace. It only takes understanding one person to break barriers of fear, separation, and misunderstanding.

One powerful example of music directly leading to peace was during World War I, in Northern Europe at the end of December 1914. The war had been raging for 5 months, and the soldiers were tired and homesick. In southern Belgium, at the epicentre of the fighting along the Western Front, there were 100,000 soldiers divided by a small empty space known as "no-man's land". On one side were British, French, and Belgian troops. On the other side were German and Austrian troops. On Christmas Eve, near the tiny village of Ploegsteert, an amazing thing happened. The British soldiers started noticing that the German soldiers were decorating the tops of their trenches with candles and Christmas trees. Then they heard a familiar tune, the Christmas carol Stille Nacht, which changed their way of thinking about the enemy. The tune was the same as the song Silent Night, which they had grown up with. The British troops responded by singing O Come All Ye Faithful. And then the Germans joined in with the Latin words to the same song. The mutual appreciation of music had an immediate effect on the soldiers on both sides of the divide. Suddenly, they no longer saw the others as enemies, but rather as potential friends that were similar to them. Finally, a German messenger raised a white flag and strode boldly across the snow dusted no-man's land to broker the Christmas ceasefire.


Christmas Truce in 1914

The Christmas Truce of 1914

The troops then walked out into the empty space and greeted each other. They exchanged food and drinks and buttons and badges. They told stories and jokes, and even played a game of soccer. One German barber gave haircuts to British “customers” in a crater, while others posed for pictures. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described that time as “one human episode amid the atrocities which have stained the memory of war.” A British officer wrote to his wife that a further truce had been fixed for New Year’s Day as “the Germans want to see how the photos come out”. But that never happened, because as soon as their commanders back home heard about the truce, they ordered it ended and began rotating in new troops who had not been humanized by the sharing of music. British Lance-Corporal George Dyce, who participated in the truce, said of the Germans: "They don’t want to fight any more than we do; they are as fed up of this game as we are fit to be. They told us that they would not shoot if we did not, so we have had a holiday for the last two days we were in the trenches... I thought peace was
proclaimed, but no such luck. I am sure if it was left to the men there would be no war."

Another example of peace bridging the divide between opposing people happened in South America in 2008. The Peace Without Borders concert took place on the border between Colombia and Venezuela, at a time when there was much conflict and mistrust between the two countries. Tens of thousands of people, on both sides of the border, came together to hear music that was popular throughout the region. "It’s not that a song is going to change people. But music becomes an excuse to send a message, that we’re all here together building peace, that we are here as citizens and this is what we want, and we have to be heard. We don’t want to get involved in conflicts between people," said Juanes, a Colombian musician who played at the concert.


Peace Without Borders Concert

The Peace Without Borders Concert

There are many other examples of music bringing opposing people together. There have been Indian and Pakistani musicians playing together, Israeli and Palestinian, Russian and American, North and South Korean, as well as different groups of religious, political, and cultural backgrounds. And these have had a lasting impact on many people. Music touches us deeply, speaking directly to the emotions. This is why the connections that we make through music can be meaningful, and lead to a greater understanding of others.

Music festivals are an excellent way to bring a diverse group of people together and have them co-experience music together. Here in the United States, a concert or festival in a major city like New York or San Francisco brings a very diverse audience together. People from different countries, cultures, and identities, come together to share their love of music. Everyone can find common ground through music, and once that is done, the "other" is no longer unknown. The other is just a different version of yourself. You grow understanding and connections by appreciating the same thing, which leads to peace.

The World Peace Through Technology Organization produces an event every year that brings together many different types of music and people called the How Weird Street Faire. It uses music and art to create an atmosphere where anyone can find common ground with others. The event encourages people to accept and appreciate our differences and what makes us unique, while embracing the things which we share, like good music. The event has enabled friendships to form where before they were unthinkable. We know that music is a path to peace, because we see it happen year after year with an extremely diverse crowd of tens of thousands of people from around the world.

Music is a great uniter, bringing people together. Music crosses all bridges, borders, and time zones. Music transcends all ideologies, politics, religions, languages, cultures, and wealth. Music is oblivious to race, gender, age, and appearance. With so many things to divide us and separate us, it is important to find things that can connect us. Music connects us all.

Music connects people

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The new WPTTO logo


The World Peace Through Technology Organization presents our new logo, which shows our peace dove taking a more active role in spreading light and knowledge. The new WPTTO logo was designed by Landon Elmore.

The WPTTO is preparing for exciting new projects that will vastly expand our abilities to inspire peace. The new logo will make its public debut at the How Weird Street Faire on Sunday April 26, 2015, at the Peace Technology Pavilion at the center intersection of the faire. There you will find fun technology exhibits, and information on the history of the peace sign - the world's most famous peace logo. You can enter the pavilion through the giant peace sign.

The How Weird Street Faire is a project of and fundraiser for the WPTTO. The faire is an experiment in creating peace, finding ways to connect diverse people.

WPTTO logo

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Open source peace events


Celebration of Peace

The How Weird Street Faire is the World Peace Through Technology Organization's annual festival, and an experiment on how to create a peace event that allows “opposing” sides to find common ground and similarities. We identified some elements that could help lead to peace between people, including electronic music, synchronized group dance, inspiring visionary art, a collective expansion of consciousness and awareness, a diverse group of people, an open mind, and a lot of fun. Then we applied them on a large scale in a public venue with amazing results. We found that those elements are the ideal ingredients to a peace event.

The need for creating peace has only grown in the years since we started the faire 16 years ago. We want to share what we have learned, and open source the elements of a peace event, in the hope that more of these events can help bring peace to the world.

We encourage all people to make their own peace events. We need more gatherings that can bring different people together. Please let us know what you learn and what elements you find to be useful for bridging divides and connecting people. As the Dalai Lama explained, one of the best things that people can do to bring peace is to hold festivals with music and art that bring people together.


How Weird Street Faire - Celebration of Peace





Music is a bridge, connecting everyone. Music is the ideal medium for crossing barriers, and uniting diverse people. Music knows no boundaries. More than any other form of communication, music is able to transcend differences between people. Music has the power to change us physically, directly affecting the emotions and the chemical balance of the body. Music inspires us and takes us to other places. Music can lift our spirits and increase our creativity. Music can heal people. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said recently, “There are no languages required in the musical world. In this era of instability and intolerance we need to promote better understanding through the power of music.”

Electronic music plays a key role in the How Weird Street Faire, and one of the reasons why the faire attracts people from all over the world. Electronic music is the most diverse and globally listened to music in human history. Every culture and every country has DJs playing and creating music, and communities forming wherever people dance together. In some places it is the mainstream culture, in others it is alternative or underground, but electronic music is present everywhere on the planet.

How Weird features the full spectrum of electronic music styles, bringing different communities together to connect them to each other and encourage cooperation and mutual appreciation. This gathering of the tribes at How Weird creates a unique music festival that is always full of surprises. Faire participants are encouraged to see and experience all the different music stages, and try something new. Great care has been taken by each stage to create a high quality environment to enjoy the music and dancing, and have a maximum amount of fun. Electronic music is a good choice of music for helping to create peace, as represented by the cultural motto of “peace, love, unity, and respect”.


Dance is a fun activity that everyone can participate in, and find common ground and similar interest with anyone else. It is a very effective way of connecting with others. Dance and music are powerful ways to reach a deep meditative state, used for thousands of years with much success. A meditative state is helpful for bringing inner peace, and building the foundations for lasting peace with others. Dancing in a group also synchronizes the individuals on a collective level, enabling deeper understanding and acceptance of others, and forming coherence among the group. In spite of our differences, when we dance to the same beat, we become one.

A Cambridge University study published in the Psychology of Music journal in 2012 found that “interacting with others through music makes us more emotionally attuned to other people,” resulting in an increase of compassion and understanding of others. Another article in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion in 2011, called “Synchrony and the Social Tuning of Compassion” described how “synchronized movement evokes compassion” in groups of people. Science is noticing the same things that we did, that dancing together creates very deep connections and increases empathy, which leads to peace. As Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology at Cambridge University, explained, “Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble.”

For the third year, the How Weird Street Faire will participate in National Dance Week, a massive celebration of all forms of dance. Cultures all over the planet have enjoyed dance since before the written word, it is a universal expression of life. As Nelson Mandela once said, “It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world.”



Visual art, like music and dance, is a form of communication that bridges separations, and speaks directly to the heart and soul. Art can lead to greater understanding and appreciation of others. How Weird showcases many kinds of expression, including visionary art. We found that being surrounded by visionary art helps to recreate those states of awareness, and lay the foundation for deeper connections and understanding to take place. Music, dance, and art have always been recognized as having powerful effects on human consciousness, and being a fundamental part of our existence.


The How Weird Street Faire tries to raise people’s consciousness through music, art, dancing, and ideas. By viewing the world from a wider perspective, the connections between us become more apparent, as well as our common interests. By raising our level of awareness and understanding, we make it easier to live in peace, to develop connections between people, and to find solutions to the many problems facing humanity at this time. As Albert Einstein explained, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”


The How Weird Street Faire celebrates extreme diversity and individual expression. Those attending and participating in the faire are a vast multitude from all over the planet, and perhaps other planets as well, representing a very unique and interesting mix of sentient beings. All of them potentially finding common ground and connecting with each other and new communities. There are babies and small children to young adults to elderly, and all in between. There are very wealthy attendants, and struggling students and artists. There are people of different politics and religions and perspectives, that have chosen to attend the same faire and enjoy the same activities. The extreme diversity of people at How Weird is testament to the universal appeal of inspiring art and music, and the desire of all people to celebrate peace. That deep connections are made, and a collective cohesion is formed, is proof that these elements can unite even the most extreme differences.

The faire is open to people of all ages, all backgrounds, and all points of view. Everyone is encouraged to be accepting of others, and to appreciate the differences between us. One faire participant explained why he liked the faire, “Instead of trying to bring us all into one line, we all get to enjoy what makes us different.”


AN OPEN MIND (or as we say “being weird”)

We chose the name “How Weird” as a play on Howard Street, the street where the faire took place. At first, we thought everyone would see the play on words, and didn’t really appreciate our own weirdness. Over the years, we grew to embrace being weird. We found that celebrating weirdness encouraged people to freely express themselves, and readily accept others. If everyone is weird, all viewpoints are equally valid, and everyone has an opportunity to be appreciated. Suddenly, the person who was an outsider is now a valuable part of the community. Differences between people become so great, that they become something interesting and amusing rather than dividing. Similarities that would usually remain elusive are brought out, enabling connections where none could have been imagined before. Being weird means doing things differently, and seeing the world in a unique way. Being weird enables us to step outside of preconceived notions and stereotypes, and think things we normally wouldn’t think. Having a festival of weirdness is an excellent way to open people’s minds, and prepare them to accept others no matter how different they are.

We weren’t the only ones who noticed these traits of weirdness. Being weird used to evoke emotions of fear and intolerance. In our modern world of rapid changes and extreme complexity, weird has become a desirable attribute, especially in the technology industry, which continues to play a major role in How Weird’s regional environment and immediate neighborhood. Weird has become associated with being creative and innovative. Thinking in a weird way has become the popular key to "stepping outside of the box", as we try to solve the planet’s problems, as well as our own. Being weird somehow plays a part in creating an effective peace event. Perhaps, like clowns and jesters, being weird gives people permission to tear down preconceptions and rewrite all the rules, placing them in a position to find new ways of living and interacting with others. Being weird encourages people to open their mind and accept new perspectives. Being weird allows people the opportunity to be outside of their usual way of doing and seeing things, and try a fresh approach. Plus being weird is fun.

Having people arrive in strange and colorful costumes reinforces the element of weirdness and unexpectedness, that anything is possible. At first, we just liked wearing costumes. But soon we noticed that it is an excellent way to encourage individual expression and acceptance of others. Costumes enable people to be themselves. Individual costumes break down the associations with groups or ideologies, and allow people to appreciate others based solely on their creativity and interests.

How Weird inspires peace by bringing people together and allowing them to experience a place where everyone is accepted no matter what their background is. At How Weird, everyone is appreciated for having a unique perspective that is valuable to the whole. We encourage having an open mind by embracing the weirdness within us all, the things we do differently, the things that make us unique. What political or religious affiliation someone has makes little difference when they are in an outrageous costume, dancing in the middle of the street. How Weird provides a place where people can be understood by their similar passions. At How Weird, people are surrounded by unexpected opportunities to connect with others and find common ground. Despite the extreme diversity at the faire, it is all one community.

The extreme participation of the faire goers, especially the costumes and dancing, encourages a level of acceptance and appreciation rarely seen at a public event. It is an environment that fully embraces inclusion and appreciation. By accepting others’ perspectives, we increase our capacity for empathy and understanding. Allowing yourself and others to be weird can be an important lesson in peace. In a place where everyone is weird, then every way of seeing things becomes equal, and differences are more appreciated. This leads to collective empathy and understanding. If this level of respect for each other was the standard way of dealing with each other, there would be no more wars.


The faire is a lot of fun. Peace is fun. Fun makes everything better. Having a positive attitude helps to connect with others and appreciate them. Plus it’s hard to fight when you’re having fun. Fun often results in smiles, which are very contagious. Smiles help to make people happy, even at a distance. And happy people are at peace.

Buckminister Fuller noticed that to create change, you need to built something new that makes the old way obsolete. We feel that in order to create a new world that is sustainable and at peace, we need to build something that is better and more fun. Peace is badly needed now, so that we may thrive on this planet and coexist with each other. It is through music, art, and the imagination that peace is always possible.





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Three short films about peace


Errol Morris, the acclaimed filmmaker and writer, just produced three short films about peace. Each film highlights an inspiring moment in the lives of Nobel Peace Prize winners Leymah Gbowee from Liberia and Lech Walesa from Poland, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bob Geldof from Ireland. He was able to interview these subjects through a Visa commercial being filmed to air during the World Cup games. The commercial was interviewing these subjects about soccer. Morris asked if he could also ask them about peace, and everyone agreed. The results are three thought provoking films that show the possibilities of what one determined person can do.

Errol Morris explained how he "interviewed five of the world’s greatest peacemakers, and chose to feature the three who told the most compelling stories on camera. But it was a privilege to meet and to interview every one of them. David Trimble, whose participation in the Good Friday Agreement helped bring an end to Northern Ireland’s Troubles, and Oscar Arias Sanchez, who brokered the Esquipulas peace agreement that ended decades of internecine strife in Central America, were no less inspiring than the three included here."

When Morris asked Leymah Gbowee "whether the women’s movement in Liberia needed her. She said no. It was the opposite. She needed it. Through her activism, she was able to restore her own faith in humanity and in the power of each and every individual to effect positive change. I was truly moved by her remark, perhaps because I feel the same way. I needed these people to remind me that there is still the possibility of doing good in this world and the possibility of helping other people. That one person can make a difference."

Below is the first of the three films, featuring 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, the peace activist who brought the women of Liberia together to stop the civil war there. You can watch all three films here:


The Dream - featuring Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee


"We have various ideas about what makes a hero. Courage, determination, and fearlessness. But, often what makes a hero is a refusal to accept the status quo...
a persistent refusal to accept the world the way it is." - Errol Morris



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Peace is life.


Sociologist Jane Addams, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, observed that “peace is not merely an absence of war, but the nurture of human life.” Peace is a celebration of our co-existence, a necessity in our collective struggle to survive and flourish, and an acknowledgement of our inter-connections and mutual needs. Peace is recognizing within others the same things that are inside of you. Peace is combining of efforts to increase our collective potential.

Peace is not the opposite of war. Peace is our natural state, required by the core unit of the family to survive.
War is a specific type of failure of human spirit and reason, an illness, a mistake.

We are living in a time of exponential technological growth, and overall change. To survive and flourish, we now need to rapidly expand our understanding and awareness, and focus on cooperation in an increasingly inter-connected world. Much of the focus of technology today is on military and security use, on means of control. It is essential that these tools be used in an open and transparent way. We could achieve so much more if we used these tools for peace.

Napoleon Boneparte once noted that "those who have changed the universe have never done it by changing officials, but always by inspiring the people." The World Peace Through Technology Organization wants to inspire you to live in peace. We want to educate you with stories and information, and expand your perspective through creativity and art.



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The reality of war


World Beyond War is a global movement to end all wars. They have listed some of the myths and facts about war, and why it's bad for everybody...

War is not inevitable.

War has only been around for the most recent fraction of the existence of our species. We did not evolve with it. During the most recent 10,000 years, war has been sporadic. Some societies have not known war. Some have known it and then abandoned it.

War is not “natural” or healthy.

A great deal of conditioning is needed to prepare most people to take part in war, and a great deal of mental suffering is common among those who have taken part. In contrast, not a single person is known to have suffered deep moral regret or post-traumatic stress disorder from war deprivation.

War is not a permanent part of our culture.

Any feature of a society that necessitates war can be changed and is not itself inevitable. The military-industrial complex is not an eternal and invincible force. Environmental destructiveness and economic structures based on greed are not immutable.

Ending war is possible.

Human societies have been known to abolish institutions that were widely considered permanent. These have included human sacrifice, blood feuds, duelling, slavery, the death penalty, and many others. Ending all war is an idea that has found great acceptance in various times and places. It was more popular in the United States, during the 1920s and 1930s, then it is today. It is the reason that the United Nations was created. In recent decades, the notion has been propogated that war is permanent. That notion is new, radical, dangerous, and without basis in fact.

War is not “defense”.

The U.S. War Department was renamed the Defense Department in 1947, and it is common in many countries to speak of the war departments of one’s own and all other nations as “defense.” But if the term has any meaning, it cannot be stretched to cover offensive war making or aggressive militarism.  If “defense” is to mean something other than “offense,” then attacking another nation “so that they can’t attack us first” or “to send a message” or to “punish” a crime is not defensive and not necessary.

War preparation is also not “defense”.

The same logic that would claim that attacking another nation is “defensive” can be used to try to justify the permanent stationing of troops in another nation. The result, in both cases, is counterproductive, producing threats rather than eliminating them. A defensive military would consist of a coast guard, a border patrol, anti-aircraft weapons, and other forces able to defend against an attack.  The vast majority of military spending, especially by wealthy nations, is offensive.

Defense does not need to involve violence.

Evidence shows that the most effective means of defense is, far more often than not, nonviolent resistance. The mythology of warrior cultures suggests that nonviolent action is weak, passive, and ineffective at solving large-scale social problems. The facts show just the opposite. People under attack can refuse to recognize an attacker’s authority.  Peace teams from abroad can join the nonviolent resistance.  Targeted sanctions and prosecutions can be combined with international diplomatic pressure. There are alternatives to mass violence.

War makes everyone less safe.

War mythology would have us believe that war kills evil people who need to be killed to protect us and our freedoms.  In reality, recent wars involving wealthy nations have been one-sided slaughters of children, the elderly, and ordinary residents of the poorer nations attacked. And while “freedom” has served as a justification for the wars, the wars have served as a justification for curtailing actual freedoms.

War does not bring stability and is not moral.

War can be imagined as a tool for enforcing the rule of law, including laws against war, only by ignoring the hypocrisy and the historical record of failure. War actually violates the most basic principles of law and encourages their further violation. Murder is the one crime that we’re taught to excuse if it’s done on a large enough scale. Morality demands that we not so excuse it. War is nothing other than murder on a large scale.

War erodes our liberties.

Just look what is happening in America now, as a result of our endless wars. Freedom is being compromised in the name of security. The War on Terror and the War on Drugs have been the excuses used to increase control on the population, and limit what we do.

War threatens our environment.

The world's militaries are the leading cause of pollution and environmental degradation. Plus a major motivation behind some wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas, which are then used instead of clean alternatives.

We need the money we spend on war for other things.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. That sounds like a lot of money to you or me. But if we had trillions of dollars it wouldn’t. And we do. It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. Again, that sounds like a lot. Let’s round up $50 billion per year to provide the world with both food and water. Who has that kind of money? We do. But we're spending that money on war, which is impoverishing us. The world spends around $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. The effects of war and other violence cost the world trillions more. A study published by the Institute for Economics and Peace found that violence cost the world $9.46 trillion in 2012 alone. That’s 11 percent of gross world product. By comparison, the cost of the financial crisis was just 0.5 percent of the 2009 global economy.

Of course, we in the wealthier parts of the world don’t share the money, even among ourselves. Those in need of aid are right here as well as far away. But imagine if one of the wealthy nations, the United States for example, were to put $500 billion into its own education (meaning “college debt” can begin the process of coming to sound as backward as “human sacrifice”), housing (meaning no more people without homes), infrastructure, and sustainable green energy and agricultural practices. What if, instead of leading the destruction of the natural environment, the United States was leading the world in creating a sustainable future.

The potential of green energy would suddenly skyrocket with that sort of unimaginable investment, year after year. But where would the money come from? $500 billion? Well, if $1 trillion fell from the sky on an annual basis, half of it would still be left. After $50 billion to provide the world with food and water, what if another $450 billion went into providing the world with green energy and infrastructure, topsoil preservation, environmental protection, schools, medicine, programs of cultural exchange, and the study of peace and nonviolent action?

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year. Taking it up to $100 billion — never mind $500 billion — would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing food and schools and medicine and solar panels to the entire world, instead of military actions, then the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be laughable and probably non-existent.


Imagining a world without war.


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Rethinking our priorities


Hayes Brown wrote a column for Think Progress on how Americans have spent enough money on a broken plane to buy every homeless person a mansion. We are giving much needed money to a few private companies to continue the racket that is war...

Just days before its international debut at an airshow in the United Kingdom, the entire fleet of the Pentagon’s next generation fighter plane — known as the F-35 II Lightning, or the Joint Strike Fighter — has been grounded, highlighting just what a boondoggle the project has been. With the vast amounts spent so far on the aircraft, the United States could have worked wonders, including providing every homeless person in the U.S. a $600,000 home.

It’s hard to argue against the need to modernize aircraft used to defend the country and counter enemies overseas, especially if you’re a politician. But the Joint Strike Fighter program has been a mess almost since its inception, with massive cost overruns leading to its current acquisition price-tag of $398.6 billion — an increase of $7.4 billion since last year. That breaks down to costing about $49 billion per year since work began in 2006 and the project is seven years behind schedule. Over its life-cycle, estimated at about 55 years, operating and maintaining the F-35 fleet will cost the U.S. a little over $1 trillion. By contrast, the entirety of the Manhattan Project — which created the nuclear bomb from scratch — cost about $55 billion in today’s dollars.

Buying Every Homeless Person In The U.S. A Mansion

On any given night in 2013, the Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded, there were an estimated 600,000 homeless Americans living on the streets. Numerous studies, however, have showed that rather than putting money into temporary shelters or incarceration, communities have saved millions of dollars by investing in permanent homes for the homeless. A recent report showed that in one Florida community, it cost taxpayers an estimated $30,000 to take the homeless off the streets through traditional methods, but only around $10,000 per person to give them permanent housing and provide job training and other support. Expanding that concept to the Federal level, even taking into account things like varying real estate prices around the country, it’s possible that $7.4 billion would be more than enough to start a program nationwide. With the full amount spent on the F-35 at its disposal, the U.S. could afford to purchase every person on the streets a $664,000 home.

Boosting Funding Needed To Rebuild America

The United States is falling apart. A lack of funding for bridges, roads, and other infrastructure has led to collapses across the country and the more than 63,000 bridges that have been labeled as “structurally deficient.” The Department of Transportation’s total budget request for next year is $90.1 billion, part of a four-year budget of $302.1 billion with $199 billion set aside to rebuild America’s roads and bridges. Obama has for the last two years called for a $50 billion lump sum to be added to the on top of DOT’s budget to help address the growing need, and twice Congress has rejected this proposal. If the U.S. were to have channeled the $298 billion is has spent so far on the F-35 — and continued spending at that level for the next six years — the U.S. would be halfway towards closing the $1.1 trillion gap in investment needed in infrastructure, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. In addition, a report from the Center for American Progress, citing Moody’s Analytic’s chief economist, estimates infrastructure investment generates $1.44 of economic activity for each $1 spent. That sort of claim can’t be duplicated in the spending on the F-35.

Imagine what we could achieve with peace, and different priorities.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.” - Dwight Eisenhower, 1953


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Hugs not war... in space!


On Tuesday May 27, 2014, the three astronauts preparing to blast off for a six month stay on the International Space Station held a press conference at the Russian cosmodrome facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Alexander Gerst of Germany, Maxim Surayev of Russia, and Reid Wiseman of the United States answered questions about their trip, the 40th expedition aboard the ISS. For weeks, hostility between Russia and the US and Germany had been building, with their international cooperation in space at risk. The topic of politics, and the ongoing situation in Ukraine came up when a Russian journalist from NTV asked, "Because of the events in Ukraine that we all know about, the relationship between the United States, Russia, and Germany became pretty tense. Do you feel this tension on the level of your team?”

Instead of answering out loud, the three astronauts stood up and hugged each other. “This is our answer,” astronaut Wiseman said in Russian. “Yes, this is our answer for everyone to see,” cosmonaut Suraev added.

Commander Maksim Suraev then gathered his crew together for a collective self portrait of three smiling friends, with all of the journalists in the background. “Space is without borders, we fly to an international space station where we do experiments that come back to Earth and benefit all of us – they benefit all humankind,” he said.

The crew docked safely with the ISS early Thursday morning, six hours after blasting off, and are currently in orbit around the Earth.

"Space is without borders."



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What does a peace event look like?


Sophie Kerr once said, "If peace only had the music and pageantry of war, there'd be no wars." Peace is needed everywhere, and so are celebrations of peace. The Dalai Lama expained recently that one of the best things people can do to create peace is to have festivals that bring people together. Peace events can bring different communities and individuals together to find common ground and form connections that will expand peace.

The people attending a peace event should be as diverse as possible, coming from many places and of mixed demographics. The event should encourage self-expression and inclusiveness. Each person should feel free to be themselves, and accept others for who they are. By accepting others, we lay the foundation for deep understanding and peace.

There should also be a cultural and artistic element to a peace event, that allows people to find similarities across political, religious, and social barriers. Art and music are universal in their reach, providing an ideal background for common interests to be discovered. A peace event needs to provide a platform for connections and relationships to form, and new ideas to be sparked. Peace events should be a place for personal transformation and collective growth.

These are the elements of the How Weird Street Faire, a peace event held in the streets of downtown San Francisco. This year's faire was on Sunday May 4, 2014, and was attended by over 25,000 people. The people come to the faire from around California, from across the entire US, from Canada and Mexico, and South America, and Europe, and Africa, and Asia, and Australia and New Zealand. The ages range from babies to senior citizens, although most are young adults. Many of the people wear colorful costumes, which offer the opportunity to fully express their unique perspectives to others, and creates an environment where others' perspectives are respected and admired.

How Weird is a place where weird is normal, and creativity is valued over everything else. Being weird leads to discoveries and seeing things differently, exploring new ideas and new realities. By honoring weirdness and uniqueness, the How Weird Street Faire has created a peace event that welcomes everyone, no matter how different you are. How Weird is a place where anyone can feel accepted, and is encouraged to accept others.

The How Weird Street Faire brings a very diverse group of people together through music, art, and culture. The primary music used is electronic dance music, because it has the widest appeal and use around the world currently. How Weird tries to bring all the different communities of electronic dance music culture together, to showcase the full range of what is going on in this vibrant area, and as a peace-building project to build connections between all the different electronic dance music communities and unite them for a day.

The primary action used to get diverse people to interact with each other at the faire is dance. Dance is a highly respected art form, a powerful therapeutic tool, and a great form of exercise. Traditionally, dance has been one of the primary expressions of human culture, used for communication, community building, healing, and religious ceremonies throughout the world. Preceding the spoken and written word, dance transcends differences, and is an ideal way to connect people on many levels. And it's a lot of fun.

The How Weird Street Faire is a fun and inviting place. Everything about How Weird is positive and supportive of others, it is a true celebration of peace. The faire creates an ideal community of peace for a day, which then inspires others to help make their community more ideal, and more peaceful. We hope to bring the faire to other places soon, and seed new peace events around the world. The How Weird Street Faire is a project of the non-profit World Peace Through Technology Organization, showing the world what peace looks like, and a demonstration of what is possible.

The 15th annual How Weird Street Faire

The 15th annual How Weird Street Faire

Peace… the final frontier.

This is the voyage of our beloved Spaceship Earth.

Our ongoing mission: to discover new ideas and new perspectives, to raise our awareness and understanding, and to live in peace as one planet - in harmony with the cosmos as we collectively dance across time and space.



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The Space Apps Challenge


This weekend is the third annual International Space Apps Challenge, a NASA incubator innovation program. The challenge is a global collaboration between government agencies, organizations, academic institutions, and individuals from across the planet. Over 9,000 people participated simultaneously in last year’s event from over 50 locations. This year features almost 100 locations spanning six continents, including 31 locations in North America, 29 locations in Europe, 15 locations in South America, 10 locations in Africa, 9 locations in Asia, and 4 locations in Australia and New Zealand.

In San Francisco, the Space Apps Challenge will take place at Constant Contact, located at 85 2nd Street, just a few feet from where the How Weird Street Faire takes place. San Francisco’s event is organized and run by former Space Apps winners SpaceRocks. The SpaceRocks team was one of two San Francisco teams selected for global judging in the 2013 NASA Space Apps Challenge, winning an honorable mention globally in the "Galactic Impact" category for the SkyLog social stargazing app.

The 2014 worldwide hackathon will take place April 12-13. Participants from all around the world will develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualization, and platform solutions that could contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth. The challenge encourages entrepreneurs, technologists, thinkers, and developers to create and deploy data-driven visualizations and simulations that will help people understand and solve problems related to life on earth and space. More than 200 data sources, including data sets, data services, and tools will be made available. This event will bring tech-savvy citizens, scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, and students together to help solve challenges relevant to both space exploration and social needs. This year, the challenges will be organized in five themes: Earth Watch, Technology in Space, Human Spaceflight, Robotics, and Asteroids. About half of the challenges are in the Earth Watch theme, which supports NASA’s focus on Earth science in 2014. The challenges range from turning your smartphone into a satellite to monitor air quality, to designing a space-greenhouse.

According to NASA, "the event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space.” One of the winners from 2013 was the Greener Cities Project, which was honored in the “Galactic Impact” division. The Gothenburg, Sweden based team behind Greener Cities Project set out to complement NASA satellite climate data with crowd-sourced microclimate data obtained through low-cost sensors, network connectivity, and urban gardens, thus providing higher resolution environmental monitoring capability. The Kansas City-based Sol project, which was described as the world’s first interplanetary weather application, won last year’s Space Apps Challenge for "Best Use of Data". Sol allows users to select a planet and view the weather on that world.

Everyone is encouraged to participate in the challenge, even if they have no programming experience. The International Space Apps Challenge is an opportunity for people to build, create, and invent new solutions to challenges of global importance. NASA explains that "the exploration of space is, by necessity, a unified international effort - and diversity of experience and perspective inevitably produces a better product. The Challenge exemplifies the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration by utilizing openly available data, supplied through NASA missions and technology, and the talent and skill of passionate volunteers from around the planet to advance space exploration and improve the quality of life on Earth. The idea of a Challenge is so compelling because it acknowledges the fact that the world is facing serious challenges - and that we all have to work together to approach them. While there are prizes offered for great solutions, the main challenge we focus on is enabling 48 hours of highly engaged collaboration- and discovering what we can create when that happens."


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An empathy revolution


Roman Krznaric spoke at TEDxAthens in 2013 about how to start an empathy revolution. The goal is to go "from me to we, seeing the world from other perspectives, understanding others and our connection to them." He talked about how to harness the power of empathy through technology and tools. Empathy can be taught when you bring diverse people together to meet, and they begin to see life through each other's perspectives. Differences spark curiosity, that can be used to find connections.

Roman Krznaric is a cultural thinker and writer on the art of living. This talk is based on his new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution. Roman is a founding faculty member of The School of Life in London, and advises organisations including Oxfam and the United Nations on using empathy and conversation to create social change. He is also founder of the world's first Empathy Library. He has been named by The Observer as one of Britain's leading lifestyle philosophers.


Empathy can be taught and shared.


"Empathy is like a universal solvent.
Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble."

-  Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University


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How Weird in Space - Peace Frontiers


The World Peace Through Technology Organization is excited to announce
the 15th annual How Weird Street Faire on Sunday May 4, 2014
in Downtown San Francisco, Earth, Sol, Milky Way.


On May the Fourth, the How Weird Street Faire will once again fill the streets of downtown San Francisco with a celebration of peace and creativity. The faire will feature art, music, performances, technology exhibits, peace activities, unique vendors from around the world, and much more. The universe is invited to participate in the greatest street faire in this galaxy, and the start of the San Francisco festival season.

The How Weird Street Faire is a project of the non-profit World Peace Through Technology Organization, which aims to inspire peace through music and art. The faire brings many different types of people together to foster connections, find similarities, accept differences, and celebrate diversity. How Weird encourages uniqueness and creative expression, with thousands of people in colorful costumes from all over the world being weird for a day.

The How Weird Street Faire is going to be a part of National Dance Week again this year. In honor of the festivities, there will be a special National Dance Week stage showcasing all kinds of dance from around the world. And there will be plenty of opportunities to dance yourself at stages by some of the best music collectives in the world, providing music from the many genres of electronic dance music. How Weird is a fusion of motion, energy, talent, and collaborative weirdness unlike anything you've experienced before... an example of how fun peace can be.

For more information on the faire...


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The Overview Effect: cosmic consciousness and the big picture



The Overview Effect is the psychological, emotional, and spiritual results from viewing the Earth from space. The term was used by Frank White in his 1987 book The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution to describe the incredible stories from astronauts who describe the feelings and thoughts they had when viewing the Earth from the outside, and the changes that the effect inspired. What happens to many astronauts is a shift in perception and understanding as the they clearly see that everything on the Earth is interconnected and functions as one planet, soaring through space with its celestial neighbors. Humanity's unity and the arbitrary nature of boundaries become obvious.

In addition, the Earth's atmosphere is seen for what it really is, a thin blue haze covering the Earth like an egg shell. The delicate and fragile view of the planet inspires people to return to Earth and work on ecological and environmental issues, with the understanding that such a tiny layer of atmosphere needs to be protected. And then there is the emotional response to seeing your home, the only place you've ever known, from someplace else. A home that looks more beautiful than anything you've ever seen, against a backdrop of empty darkness and distant stars. The effect far exceeded the astronaut's expectations, even the ones already familiar with the Overview Effect. It has been described as "instant global consciousness", a chance to experience a cosmic perspective, and the "big picture". Astronaut Edgar Mitchell described it as a "spontaneous epiphany experience", more meaningful than walking on the Moon.

Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon, was deeply humbled not by the first view of our majestic satellite, but by the sight of the Earth, our ancient home. "It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small." Another astronaut, Alan Shepard, agreed, "If somebody'd said before the flight, 'Are you going to get carried away looking at the earth from the moon?' I would have say, 'No, no way.' But yet when I first looked back at the earth, standing on the moon, I cried."

Frank White states that "the Overview Effect is a message from the universe to humanity. The message is that the Earth, when seen from orbit or the moon, is a whole system, where borders and boundaries disappear, and everything is interconnected. Our planet is a tiny spaceship in an enormous universe, which is itself a whole system, of which we are an important part. We are the crew of a natural spaceship called Earth, which is hurtling through the universe at a high rate of speed. In a very real sense, all of us are astronauts, but we do not realize it because we normally do not experience it. As so many people around the world have realized, humanity stands at a crossroads, and we will either choose to hear the message of the Overview Effect, or we will continue on a path that is destructive to ourselves and our planet." The implications of the Overview Effect were explored in Buckminister Fuller's idea of Spaceship Earth, in which the visionary scientist discussed ways of creating peace and cooperation, in order to better manage or "steer" this planet.

Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin, the 8th person to walk on the moon, said that "the Earth reminded us of a Christmas tree ornament hanging in the blackness of space. As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God." Sultan Bin Salman al-Suad, the first astronaut from Saudi Arabia, explained how "the first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day we were aware of only one Earth."

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell wrote about his life-changing experiences from space in his book The Way of the Explorer. From the window of the Apollo 14 Command Module, he stared at the "blue jewel-like home planet suspended in the velvety blackness from which we had come. What I saw out the window was all I had ever known, all I have ever loved and hated, longed for, all that I once thought had ever been and ever would be. It was there suspended in the cosmos on that fragile little sphere. I experienced a grand epiphany accompanied by exhilaration, an event I would later refer to in terms that could not be more foreign to my upbringing in West Texas and later, New Mexico. From that moment on, my life was irrevocably altered."


Overview Institute

In 2008, Frank White and philosopher David Beaver launched the Overview Institute to promote and study the effect. They encourage "thinking about populations, places, and problems as highly interconnected. It’s the opposite of targeted, focused advocacy, especially if that advocacy comes at the expense of other areas of need. Belief in the need for collaboration underpins an Overview philosophy. It posits that exposure to space travel has tremendous power to inspire sincere enthusiasm to solve big, interrelated environmental and social problems facing the world." The institute is made up of astronauts, writers, artists, activists, and people in the space business. They believe that the Overview Effect will change the world.

Last year, Frank collaborated with the artists at the Planetary Collective to make a film about the Overview Effect. The film, called Overview, attempts to share that experience with you, and inspire a greater connection with this planet. The Planetary Collective was founded in 2011, and believes that "the root of the environmental and social crises facing humanity is the misperception that we are separate – from each other, the planet, and the cosmos as a whole."

Frank White describes the film as "a complex message that includes several components. First, it is true that there are no borders or boundaries on our planet except those that we create in our minds or through human behaviors. All the ideas and concepts that divide us when we are on the surface begin to fade from orbit and the moon. The result is a shift in worldview, and in identity. Second our planet is, in the words of panelist Ron Garan, a fragile oasis and we need to take care of it. So there is a strong environmental component to the message. Third is that we are one species with one destiny as we move out from the Earth and begin to explore the universe."

Overview the film

Astronaut Ron Garan, who served on the International Space Station, was profoundly affected by the overview of the Earth. Ron explained that he had "returned to Earth after that first space mission with a call to action. I could no longer accept the status quo on our planet. We have the resources and technology to solve many, if not all of the problems facing our planet yet nearly a billion people do not have access to clean water, countless go to bed hungry every night, and many die from preventable and curable diseases. We live in a world where the possibilities are limited only by our imagination and our will to act. It is within our power to eliminate the suffering and poverty that exist on our planet. We have the technology that can enable true global collaboration that is consistent and world changing. Our real challenge is demonstrating how vital and valuable collaboration is, despite the real and perceived risks. Open collaborations make solutions better through the pooling of resources and information. Working together multiplies cost-effectiveness while reducing duplication of effort. It is the only real way to enable economies and solutions of scale. Perhaps most importantly, collaboration encourages greater accountability and fosters trust."

Ron Garan was so inspired, that once back on Earth he worked with NASA to form Fragile Oasis, a grassroots initiative to connect the orbital perspective of astronauts who live and work in space with people who want to make a difference here on Earth. Fragile Oasis has several projects, including one that focuses on collaborations called Unity Node, which is working to unify efforts to provide collaborative platforms, and is striving to create a universal open source platform for global collaboration. Ron thought, "There has to be a way for all to collaborate toward our common goals. An effective collaboration mechanism will pair together challenges with solutions, bringing together different unique pieces of the puzzle and enabling us to learn from each other’s successes and failures and make all these organizations’ technologies and approaches considerably more effective than they would be otherwise. Since there are multiple organizations looking to develop tools to enable collaboration, it is critical to unify those efforts."

TEDxSalford, where Ron Garan gave a talk about Unity Node, described it as "an unprecedented endeavor to change the world in a profound and positive way: it aims to bring together millions of scattered charity organizations around the world by developing a central data tool and a menu of applications. The effort is unique in many ways; not only it leans on a celestial point of view helping people to perceive the bigger picture, but also it strives to bring unity between many social collaborative platforms. The international team of people and organizations together form Unity Node aiming to build an open source platform, unifying the efforts of various sectors to address and respond to humanitarian needs. If anything, the International Space Station is a proof that everything is possible. The space facility created by a collaboration of 15 nations working together is a truly one of a kind achievement showing that collective efforts have far-reaching effects."


Unity Node is connecting humanity's changemakers

Ron Garan spent 178 days in space, traveling 71,075,867 miles in 2,842 orbits around our planet, including 4 spacewalks. Recently, he wrote about what it was like to see Earth from space. "We all have moments in our lives where something shifts, clicks into place. For me it was in June of 2008, when I clamped my feet to the end of the robotic Canadarm-2 on the International Space Station. With me firmly attached to the end, the arm was flown through a maneuver that we called the 'windshield wiper', which took me across a long arc above the space station and back. As I approached the top of this arc, it was as if time stood still, and I was flooded with both emotion and awareness. Here I was, 100 feet above the space station, looking down at this incredible man-made accomplishment against the backdrop of our indescribably beautiful Earth, 240 miles below. Witnessing the absolute beauty of the planet we have been given from this perspective was a very moving experience. But as I looked down at this stunning, fragile oasis — this island that has been given to us, and has protected all life from the harshness of space - a sadness came over me, and I was hit in the gut with an undeniable sobering contradiction. In spite of the indescribable beauty of this moment in my life, I couldn’t help but think of the inequity that exists on the apparent paradise we have been given. I couldn’t help but think of all the people who don’t have clean water to drink or enough food to eat, of the social injustice, conflicts, and poverty that exists throughout the Earth. Seeing the Earth from this vantage point gave me a unique perspective – something I’ve come to call the orbital perspective."

Ron Garan looking out the ISS windows
Ron Garan looking out the International Space Station window

Frank White pondered the potential for creating peace through the Overview Effect when he wrote, "How would everything change if we began to think of ourselves as a seven billion member team, a crew on a spacecraft? What if we expanded our thinking to include other sentient life as part of that team, and perhaps even beyond, to consider everything on the Earth as team members? Would it reduce all conflict on the Earth? No, there are conflicts on teams and crews, disagreements about the best way to proceed in winning a game, a battle, or a trophy. However, the balance between cooperation and conflict might well be restored to something more appropriate to a species seeking to evolve and prosper. From orbit, we see the unity of the Earth, while from the surface, we see its diversity. From orbit, we also see a new diversity lying beyond the unity of our home planet. Neither unity nor diversity is the complete picture. If we are to understand the philosophy of the Overview Effect, then, we must understand the principle that our awareness of ourselves, the Earth, the solar system, and the universe changes with our physical perspective. This awareness then affects our knowledge of who we are and our behavior in relationship to our environment."

"Returning to the definition of philosophy as 'a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior,' we can say that the Overview Effect points to the principle that one of the primary rationales for space exploration is that it transforms how we think, how we see ourselves - our world view. A second principle is that we, and our world view, will constantly evolve, and that this is both necessary and inevitable. Another way to describe 'space exploration' is to call it 'evolution into the universe'. As humanity begins to explore the larger environment beyond the Earth, we will evolve, and as we do so, the universe itself will also evolve because we are a part of it. One of the most immediate results of the Overview Effect to date is that it has given impetus to the environmental movement. This has already produced a new philosophy of Earth that guides our behavior relative to the planet. We no longer see it as limitless, to be exploited continuously for our own needs. Increasingly, we see it as a limited whole system that must be treated with great care, for our own survival and for the planet’s benefit. Yet, there is more to it than that. We are also realizing that the various systems of which we are a part, through us, may be said to become aware of themselves."

James Lovelock, author of the Gaia hypothesis, said: "Gaia is now through us awake and aware of herself. She has seen the reflection of her fair face through the eyes of astronauts and the television cameras of orbiting spacecraft."

Frank White expanded on Lovelock's idea to suggest that, "Building on the work I have done concerning the Overview Effect and on Lovelock’s suggestion that the Earth is a living system, I have posited the 'Cosma Hypothesis'. By this, I mean that the universe is also a living system with a degree of self-awareness. By definition, this must be so, since we are alive and conscious, and part of the universe. The question is whether, as we evolve, might our purpose be to help the universe become increasingly self-aware? Might our philosophy of space exploration, our guiding principle, be to transform not only our own world view but also that of the universe itself?"

The universe is a single living, conscious being of which we are a small part.
And our expanding awareness may be helping the whole universe become more aware.

You don't need to go out in space to receive the Overview Effect. A lesser version of the effect is achieved through photographs and video, and even these minor effects have had profound implications on humanity, and our understanding of ourselves. In 1950, astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle made a prediction on BBC radio, “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside is available – once the sheer isolation of the Earth becomes known – a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” That prediction came true, embodied in the three most widely known examples...

Blue Marble
The Blue Marble - Dec. 7, 1972

The Overview film's release was timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the famous image of the whole Earth referred to as "Blue Marble", the most widely distributed image in human history. The image, along with other Earth images, is credited with inspiring the environmental movement, and an interest in global consciousness. The photograph, named AS17-148-22727 by NASA, is credited to the three astronauts aboard the Apollo 17 spacecraft - Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Jack Schmitt. The photograph is a part of a series of the only images of the full Earth ever taken by humans, and possibly the most beautiful one in existence. It has been shown as an example of Earth's frailty, vulnerability, and isolation amid the vast expanse of space. Astronaut Jack Schmitt stated, "I'll tell you, if there ever was a fragile appearing piece of blue in space, it's the Earth right now."

The Apollo 17 mission was the last manned flight to the Moon, and the last time humans were far enough away from the Earth to see it as marble in space. The Blue Marble photograph was taken on December 7, 1972. To the astronauts, the Earth had the appearance and size of a glass marble. At the time the picture was taken, the astronauts were 28,000 miles above the planet, moving at 40,000 km/hr. They were on the way to the Moon, where they would leave behind a plaque inscribed with the words, "May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind." That plaque sums up the potential impact on humanity, not just from being on the Moon itself, but from looking up and seeing the Earth from that perspective.

The Earthrise - Dec. 22, 1968

The "Earthrise" photograph, named AS08-16-2593 by NASA, was taken on December 22, 1968, by the crew of the Apollo 8 spacecraft, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders. They were the first humans to leave the gravitational influence of the Earth and orbit another celestial body, against uncertain odds of succeeding. They are the only humans to ever witness an Earthrise, but thanks to photographic technology we are all able to see it. The photo ignited the imagination of humanity, and is considered one of the most significant photos ever taken. It happened spontaneously, when the astronauts were suddenly in awe of the view. Here is the conversation which took place between the astronauts:

Borman: "Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! Here's the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty."
Anders: "Hey, don't take that, it's not scheduled."
Borman: (laughing) "You got a color film, Jim?"
Anders: "Hand me that roll of color quick, will you..."
Lovell: "Oh man, that's great!"

Three days later, the poet Archibald MacLeish wrote Riders on the Earth, in which he described the response to seeing Earthrise, "For the first time in all of time, men have seen the Earth. Seen it not as continents or oceans from the little distance of a hundred miles or two or three, but seen it from the depths of space; seen it whole and round and beautiful and small. To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold - brothers who know that they are truly brothers." Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell stated at the time, "The vast loneliness up here at the moon is awe inspiring, and it makes you realize what you have back there on Earth. The Earth from here is a grand oasis in the big vastness of space."

Pale Blue Dot
The Pale Blue Dot - Feb. 14, 1990

Up till now, there have only been 24 people who have able to see the Earth from far enough away that it appears complete. And there have been just over 500 people who have left the Earth's atmosphere and seen the planet from above. But there have been many unmanned spacecraft which have taken photographs of the Earth, and other planets. And from one of those robotic probes, the Voyager 1 spacecraft, came the third most inspiring photograph of the Earth called the "Pale Blue Dot".

The Pale Blue Dot was taken on Valentine's Day 1990 by the first human built object sent to leave our solar system. Four billion miles away from Earth, Voyager 1 turned its camera back towards its home planet and took a picture. The picture features a hazy view of black, with a couple of light streaks across it from the sun. Nothing exceptional, except a little blue dot that was almost missed. The command sequence that controlled the timing for each photograph’s exposure was developed by two University of Arizona scientists. One of them, Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, was working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab viewing the images when she noticed the dot. Later she explained, "It was just a little dot, about two pixels big, three pixels big, so not very large. You know, I still get chills down my back because here was our planet, bathed in this ray of light, and it just looked incredibly special." The full image size was actually 640,000 individual pixels, including the Earth at a mere 12% of a single pixel, but that was still big enough to make a huge impact on humanity.

Carl Sagan, who had worked with NASA on the golden record attached to the Voyager spacecraft, was the one who had suggested that they turn the craft around and take a picture of Earth. Vice Adm. Richard Truly, the head of NASA at the time, recalled the suggestion, "I did get a visit from Carl Sagan. We talked about a lot of things. And somewhere in that conversation he mentioned this idea. I thought, heck, with Voyager so far away, if it could turn around and take a picture of the different planets including the Earth, that that would really be cool."

Carl Sagan would later write his famous ode to the Pale Blue Dot, "From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known. The pale blue dot."

Carl Sagan reading "The Pale Blue Dot"

However powerful the photographs of the Earth may be, they are subtle compared to the effect of actually seeing the Earth from space. Part of the difference is in the fact that there is nothing in our lives that can relate to the experience. Part of the difference is that the trip from our planet, and the weightlessness and darkness of space, contribute to the effect. Radically new sensory experiences force the brain to reorganize to give meaning to the new information, which is the root of the Overview Effect. Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins explained how "those who saw pictures of the Earth and then thought ‘Oh, I’ve seen everything those astronauts have seen,’ were kidding themselves… an image alone was a pseudo-sight that denies the reality of the matter."

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell described his experience returning from the Moon, "There was a startling recognition that the nature of the universe was not as I had been taught. My understanding of the separate distinctness and relative independence of movement of those cosmic bodies was shattered. I experienced what has been described as an ecstasy of unity. I not only saw the connectedness, I felt it. I was overwhelmed with the sensation of physically and mentally extending out into the cosmos. I realized that this was a biological response of my brain attempting to reorganize and give meaning to information about the wonderful and awesome processes that I was privileged to view."

The awe experienced when seeing pictures of the Earth for the first time offers new sensory information that may shift our worldview, but the images do not have the psychological, emotional, and spiritual effects of the real experience. That is why the Overview Institute is excited about the potential of private space travel, which will allow for many more people to experience the Overview Effect personally. The challenge will be to provide that experience to people beyond the wealthiest who can afford that travel.

Astronaut Gene Cernan said, "You wonder, if you could get everyone in the world up there, wouldn't they have a different feeling?" Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins stated, “The pity of it is that so far the view has been the exclusive property of a handful of test pilots, rather than the world leaders who need this new perspective, or the poets who might communicate it to them."

Philosopher and author David Loy explained in the film Overview that "to have that experience of awe is, at least for the moment, to let go of yourself, to transcend this sense of separation. So it's not just that they were experiencing something other than them, but that they were, at some very deep level, integrating and realizing their interconnectedness with that beautiful blue-green ball." Astronaut Edward Gibson said of his experience in space, "You see how diminutive your life and concerns are compared to other things in the universe. The result is that you enjoy the life that is before you. It allows you to have inner peace." Astronaut Gus Grissom said, "There is a clarity, a brilliance to space that simply doesn't exist on Earth. And nowhere else can you be so awed." Cosmonaut Oleg Makarov said, "Something about the unexpectedness of this sight, its incompatibility with anything we have ever experienced on earth elicits a deep emotional response. Suddenly, you get a feeling you’ve never had before. That you’re an inhabitant of the Earth."

Frank White wrote, "From space, the astronauts tell us, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide us become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this 'pale, blue dot', becomes both obvious and imperative. Even more so, many of them tell us that from the overview perspective, all of this seems imminently achievable – if only more people could have the experience!" Space tourist Richard Garriott explained, "It was like drinking from a fire hose of information. I had heard of the Overview Effect, but having done many extreme things in my life - skydiving, mountain climbing, visiting the Titanic and Antarctica, I didn't think it would greatly affect me. That is until, I got into space! My life has changed because of my space experience."

Astronaut Don Lind said, "Intellectually, I knew what to expect. I have probably looked at as many pictures from space as anybody, so I knew exactly what I was going to see. But there is no way you can be prepared for the emotional impact. It brought tears to my eyes." Space tourist Anousheh Ansari agreed, "The actual experience exceeds all expectations and is something that's hard to put to words. It sort of reduces things to a size that you think everything is manageable. Peace on Earth – no problem."

How can the Overview Effect be felt by those on Earth? Perhaps new immersive media environments can recreate the experience in such a way that it has transformative effects. There are other things which subtlety mimic the effects of overview, including airplane rides, deep connections with nature, and views from extremely tall buildings. It can even be said that the Internet provides a sort of Overview Effect. Hanne Hvattum wrote in a blog post, "Isn’t this perspective quite similar to what we are all experiencing as we are drifting around in cyberspace? Through the World Wide Web we are able to view humanity from a distance, not through the windows of a spaceship, but through the windows of our computers. For the first time in history, our stories and ideas are woven together in one huge and complex picture, as people from all over the world are sharing their thoughts, questions and knowledge, their hopes, fears and dreams. Never before have we been able to see ourselves more clearly than we do today. And the more stories we put into this virtual picture of humanity, the more detailed it gets. Through the Internet, the majority of the world’s population is given the chance to experience The Overview Effect! I believe this will change us. That it will help us make the shift into global awareness, by reminding us that we are all interconnected. We are all astronauts in cyberspace!"

"Earth bound history has ended. Universal history has begun."
- Edwin Hubble

The project to send men to space and the Moon was a triumph of large-scale cooperation and collaboration, and shows the power of collective intention. It was a journey of the human spirit and an example of its potential. As a reward for our effort, we received the magic of the Overview Effect. Many people have noticed that the most profound effects from our travels in space have not been discoveries made on the Moon, or on other planets, but on our understanding of ourselves and our home planet. David Beaver describes the Overview Effect as the "impact of space travel on the human mind and society." "In outer space, you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty," explains astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

We are living, as Frank White says, "at a critical moment in human history. The challenges of climate change, food, water, and energy shortages as well as the increasing disparity between the developed and developing nations are testing our will to unite, while differences in religions, cultures, and politics continue to keep us apart. The creation of a "global village" through satellite TV and the Internet is still struggling to connect the world into one community. At this critical moment, our greatest need is for a global vision of planetary unity and purpose for humanity as a whole." Indeed, the only way to solve problems on a global scale in such an interconnected world is through cooperation and shared purpose, while being conscious of our actions and their effects. The Overview Effect provides an effective and inspiring lesson on understanding and finding the solutions. Astronaut Russell Schweickart stated, "You look down there and you can’t imagine how many borders and boundaries you cross, again and again and again, and you don’t even see them. There are hundreds of people in the Mideast killing each other over some imaginary line that you’re not even aware of and that you can’t see."

The story of our travels in space brings out awe and wonder in people from around the world. It is the most profound story of our time, in contrast to the most horrific story of our time - our continuous spoiling and disregard for the Earth and each other. The stories from space resonate far greater than the popular stories of division and conflict and greed, because they come from a much higher place. But more than that, it is the inspiration for action to protect the world and its people that gives the story added importance.

Around the year 30 BC, Marcus Tullius Cicero said that "the contemplation of celestial things will make a man both speak and think more sublimely and magnificently when he descends to human affairs." Forever bound to the land, he could not have imagined the impact of actually experiencing celestial things, and perhaps more importantly experiencing this planet in a celestial light. According to astronaut Jeff Hoffman, "We have to start acting as one species, one destiny. We are not going to survive if we don't do that... And a part of that is to come up with a new story, a new picture, a new way to approach this and to shift our behaviors in such a way that it leads to a sustainable approach to our civilization as opposed to a destructive approach."

Earth and Moon from Mercury
The Earth and Moon as seen from the Messenger spacecraft near Mercury
(the two brightest dots, close to each other on the left side)

"We have been evolving from the beginning of civilization to a larger and larger perspective of life, but the next natural evolution is understanding the life in space. That is, the earth, as Buckminister Fuller used to say, is a spaceship... Spaceship Earth," says David Beaver. As we travel beyond the Earth and our solar system, the Overview Effect also expands our awareness beyond the global level, eventually to the galactic and universal levels. Frank White explained that "we need to understand that the Overview Effect is not only about seeing the Earth from space but, as my colleague David Beaver likes to point out, also seeing it in space. We are in space, we have always been in space, and we always will be in space, whether we leave the planet or not. In a very real sense, all of us are astronauts, members of the crew of Spaceship Earth, and the time has come to realize that this is so."

After seeing this planet from the outside, astronaut Ron Garan said, "As I looked back at our Earth from the orbital perspective, I saw a world where natural and man-made boundaries disappeared, I saw a world becoming more and more interconnected and collaborative, a world where the exponential increase in technology was making the impossible possible on a daily basis. Thinking about the next 50 years, I imagined a world where people and organizations set aside their differences and work together toward their common goals. They set aside their differences and realize that each and every one of us is riding through the Universe together on this Spaceship we call Earth. They realize that because we are all interconnected, we are all in this together and because we are all family, the only way to solve the problems we all face is together."

After all, we are all on this ride together....

Image from the Imaginary Foundation

Posted By Justin read more


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