This annual report is a short summary of some achievements during 2016. As an organisation totally dependent on voluntary effort – while we do occasionally pay for services there is no one paid to work for INNATE – the results are significant but with the qualification that 'much more could be done' with more people involved.
The largest project which we are currently embarked on is creating a peace trail, or trails, for Ireland. This is to tell the stories of action and struggle – small or large scale - for peace, for justice, inclusion, and sustainability, including some examples of humanitarianism and cultural pinnacles. A short trail for Co Mayo was produced a few years ago and we are gathering examples, currently concentrating on trails for Belfast, Derry and Dublin but also gathering information from elsewhere for further work. This project will run for some years. We are working on this with partners including Afri, St Columb's Park House, and Corrymeela, and INNATE initiated the project and provides coordination. In the North, this work will provide an alternative to 'Troubles tourism' though it is in no way intended to deny the role violence has played in our country; it will however show the positive action many people have taken or are taking, past and present.
INNATE is involved in an exhibition on War-Torn Children at the Linen Hall Library in Belfast running for March and the first half of April, 2017. This is run jointly with Conflict Textiles and is curated by Roberta Bacic, and there will be associated programme. It will include arpilleras, posters and other materials.
The conference of the International Network of Museums for Peace takes place in Belfast in April 2017 and INNATE is involved both through participants coming to the War-Torn Children exhibition and a peace trail walking tour which we will lead.
We have an extensive website which contains many resources on different aspects of nonviolence, and related topics, as well as information on what different organisations have been doing around the country; homepage view numbers have never been higher. The website also has the effect that we receive serious queries from abroad, as well as at home, including in 2016 someone wanting to work on just war theory issues at a post-doctoral level from a country with no possibility to do so, and a would be conscientious objector in a country with no alternative to military service. We do our very best to respond fully to any queries, utilising our international connections and, e.g. in relation to conscientious objection our association with War Resisters' International. We try to provide support and solidarity as requested, either regarding issues in Ireland or abroad. We have continued to add content to our photo site which now has almost 1,100 entries.
We ran a film series in Belfast in the spring. This was both fun and informative with films chosen to illustrate aspects of nonviolence and a short discussion afterwards. We held a joint discussion with Mediation Northern Ireland on the interface between mediation and advocacy. We set up Belfast programme for visiting Colombian activists at the request of Peace Brigades International in Ireland. A monthly INNATE networking meeting is held in Belfast to discuss developments and plan work; anyone interested is welcome to come to these.
Nonviolent News was produced with ten full monthly issues and two news supplements (January and August) as usual and it is the only such publication in Ireland; we will reach 250 issues produced in summer 2017. It is produced in short paper format (the first two pages of news) and longer e-mail and web formats; the latter typically run to 11 pages or 8,000 plus words. We also produced a pamphlet entitled 'Eco Echoes', a selection of columns from Larry Speight's Eco-Awareness column illustrated with his own photos. INNATE itself is coming up to 30 years in existence, also in 2017.
We always welcome offers of help (or suggestions for things we should do) and at the moment we would most welcome suggestions, from anywhere in Ireland, Republic or the North, for stories which can be included in peace trails. It is clear that when we begin to scratch the surface there are many such stories to tell and we want to 'do justice' to those who have struggled for peace, justice, inclusion and sustainability – but we can only tell these great stories if we know about them...and nothing is potentially too little, or too large, to tell.
Rob Fairmichael, Coordinator of INNATE