Asia West Pacific

Peace Place Blossoms with Permaculture Designs

By Petrus

Peace Place Training Center in Pati, Central Java, Indonesia works to create cultures of peace and justice. We believe peace is possible, that peace already exists and is felt by every being on earth. To preserve this peace, we commit to living and working in ways that simultaneously take care of each person, the group, the community, and the natural world.

Buildings now occupy ​​395 square meters or about 30% of ​​1,300 square meters of land. The remaining 70% is open space for outdoor playgrounds and gardens. The new training hall is covered, open on three sides to the natural outdoor play and work spaces. Children’s activities have continued during the pandemic because of the permaculture plan conducted with Australian Friends, Paula and Ian Paananen with ventilation in a new roof tile arrangement in the traditional Javanese building, called a Joglo, and the open-air play and work spaces and gardens.

Peace Place grows vegetables for use on site, including mustard greens, chilies, tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, pokak, moringa leaves, katu leaves, celery, and several herbs and spices (ginger, turmeric, galangal, and lemongrass). We also grow some traditional medicinal herbs: Noni, aloe vera, meniran, binahong, katu leaves, moringa leaves, patikan kebo, ceplukan, and kudo. We grow seven varieties of mango, four varieties of guava, rambutan, srikaya, papaya, banana, and duku. Children at the Joglo Preschool use the gardens to learn about and practice planting and growing food for their homes. Children and adults learn simple processes to make compost by placing dry leaves, grass, and some fallen fruit in the compost bins, and how to use compost for planting and growing vegetables.

Children use the open spaces for transition periods: playing, running, going up and down stairs, observing plants, and noticing colors in the leaves and flowers. Children enjoy outdoor water play from collected rainwater. They play with bubbles, pour and measure water, cooperate in water construction, and share water with the plants. The children now wash their hands with soap when they arrive, finish activities, or prepare to leave. They distinguish types of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, observe animals and insects on plants, and keep a journal of their observations in their natural surroundings.

Following COVID-19 health protocols, Joglo Preschool divided the children into groups of less than ten children in two different sessions of 2-hours each session with a 30 minute transition period between sessions, meeting every weekday. The large, covered parking area is a convenient place for parents to visit while waiting for their children, or as an additional play center for children, especially during the rainy and summer seasons. Built with an open bamboo construction of 9m x 6m and 3m high roof, allows good air circulation that feels cool in the hot, humid climate of Indonesia.

The Peace Place training hall easily accommodates 50 participants, such as at the Creating Cultures of Peace International Training in January 2020. During the pandemic, with social distancing we still have enough room for 25 participants to meet face-to-face and sleep over if necessary. We are just now completing two bathrooms, which will be a great addition to the training hall! And we are hoping to complete a consultation room, library, and kitchen with a food serve area for the training hall.

Peace Place now also has storage space for books, puzzles, and wooden toys such as Units Block. Production began under the direction of Peter Watson, a Quaker from Aotearoa/NZ, and Dean Hoover, a Quaker from the USA. Introducing toys with standard measure to young children has profound effects on higher-level mathematics achievement, capacity to meet international standards later in life, and other achievements that support people in peace-times, preventing violence and war.

The land is now very comfortable. Children and adults enjoy a cool environment with outdoor work and play stations and playground equipment. Community members bring their children to Peace Place for free play in the afternoon. It’s an ideal environment for learning, especially learning about peace and justice with nature as well as with each other. Everyone who comes to learn and work for peace and justice is grateful to all the people who offered the knowledge, time, training, and funds to make Peace Place possible. Thank you.