Peace of Paper
Designing together: Through stamping and screen-printing workshops, Peace of Paper e. V. enables refugees and locals to interact in a special way.
All beginnings are supposedly difficult. When people from different cultures meet and language barriers initially stand in the way of communication, the beginning, at least, is not easy – unless you create space for a creative dialogue. The non-profit association Peace of Paper e. V. in Munich organizes workshops for this purpose, in which participants design, cut and print stamp motifs. They then create wrapping paper and cards based on these graphic shapes using the screen-printing process. “Designing and printing the stamps is a simple technique that makes it easy for people of all languages and home countries to be creative together, exchange ideas, have fun, get to know each other and network along the way,” the team explains.
Foam rubber is used to cut the stamp motifs, as it is easy to handle with scissors. Finer details can be achieved by simply using a ballpoint pen, which gives more creative freedom. When the project first began, the finished sponge rubber pieces were glued to cardboard before use, but now the team uses rigid foam as the base material so that the stamps can be washed off and reused as often as desired.
Despite the heterogeneity of the individual designs, the tools used ensure a common language of form. In this way, it becomes immediately apparent on a visual level that diversity and togetherness are not a contradiction. In addition, there are always themes in the workshops that are worked on by everyone, for example, certain animals or the human eye. Everyone contributes their own individual language of form and cultural background. When these motifs are then printed together on the wrapping paper, the theme of diversity is boldly expressed.
From the perspective of the initiators, these joint activities serve a democratic society in which refugees and locals learn from each other without prejudice. “Our guiding principle is an interaction characterized by humanity, equality, mutual respect and tolerance, regardless of origin, gender and religion, and equally independent of political, economic and religious institutions,” they explain.
Peace of Paper started as an initiative in 2015 and in 2019 the association of the same name was founded, which now has seven board members and a few permanent members, who are supported by friends during peak times. The workshops for up to 20 people have been held in various locations, including the Museum Fünf Kontinente, the Welcome Café of the Kammerspiele, community accommodations and the open screen-printing workshop of the municipal youth culture facility Die Färberei. In addition to its own events, Peace of Paper was also involved in a furniture personalization workshop at the Infocafé of Bellevue di Monaco, a residential and cultural center for refugees and locals. Students from the department of industrial and communication design at the University of Applied Sciences Munich designed furniture for the café in collaboration with architects and industrial designers. For the purpose of individualizing the chairs, stamp motifs from Peace of Paper were used, including lettering in various languages.
In addition to the wrapping paper and cards, Peace of Paper has also developed a game for learning German. Using the memory principle, players memorize objects and terms from everyday life in an entertaining way.
When it was founded, the association received a once-off grant for the screen-printing materials and tools. The volunteer project has since financed itself through the sale of the products and donates surplus money to aid organizations that help people along the escape routes: Intereuropean Human Aid Association, Lesvos Solidarity and Sea-Watch.
The team’s commitment thus benefits an astonishing number of people: Peace of Paper not only offers help for those arriving in Germany or a cultural exchange for locals, but also provides support for refugees in other regions of Europe. A small association with a big impact!