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Young People Cause Peace Through Art Thanks to Landmark Forum Graduate Organization

Three Landmark Education Graduates Take Different Paths to Cause Peace New Jersey Natives Jeff Rudy and Jeff and Donna Clapp have a couple of things in common: They've all taken many of the programs of Landmark Education, and they've used that training to make a difference with an extraordinary organization they've created, Where Peace Lives. The group facilitates elementary and high school students to create peace murals that are exchanged with other schools across the world, while simultaneously opening a dialogue with those faraway peers. The path that each of them took to get there, however, was different for each of them.

Jeff Clapp remembers both being bullied and being a bully as he grew up. "Neither one felt good or was in any way satisfying, and the pressures I remember just fitting in were enormous, and I rarely felt at peace," he recalls. "Our intention is to give young people an alternative to turning to bullying, teasing, violence, anger, or even worse, suicide. They can move past where they get stopped in feeling great about themselves and can experience the leaders that they are and the difference that they each make in bringing about peace." Clapp grew up to be an artist, among other things.

Out of his participation in a Landmark Education program, Clapp had created 'Where Art Lives,' a project in which students in Red Bank got to explore art by making a community-based mural. That idea stuck in his his head for a long time before he began to brainstorm with Jeff Rudy. Rudy remembers being registered for a Landmark Education program in New York City, which was to take place at the Landmark office in the twin towers.

Five days before he was due to take the program the towers were destroyed on September 11th. Rudy recalls thinking about all the people who died and how our country would be justified in bombing arab countries that supported terrorism. Soon after, he began a dialogue with a friend that started to create in him the possibility of something more constructive.

Later, in a Landmark program in front of 400 people, he declared himself to be the possibility of world peace. Later he met Donna Clapp, Jeff Clapp's wife and the third founding member of Where Peace Lives. Donna, a photographer and filmmaker, was working on making a documentary about ordinary people making an extraordinary difference. Causing peace was also something that inspired Donna, and soon she and her husband were talking with Jeff Rudy on a regular basis about what they wanted to create.

Where Peace Lives is the result of their brainstorming. It takes elements of Jeff's original art mural project and adds the dimensions of causing peace in the world and in the lives of individual young people. Founded in 2006, Where Peace Lives has already caused many miracles and is set to expand its programs worldwide. Recent mural exchanges have taken place between American students and those in Egypt and Peru, and more exchanges with Ghana, Africa, and Costa Rica are almost complete. More than 50 other agreements with other schools and groups have been reached. A high school student from Wall, New Jersey sums up the effects of the program on him personally.

"At first I thought: We're just as greedy, selfish, ignorant and pugnacious as all the countless generations before us. What could we possibly change?" "Then I started working on the mural. During the brainstorming process I had the privilege of hearing what my peers had to say concerning the state of the world, and how they thought the world should be.

Hearing the relentless optimism of my fellow students gave me a new perspective. Sure, making a difference isn't going to be easy, but hey, why not? " "My parents told me that my generation was going to fix the world. Before this I didn't believe it, but I think I can call myself an optimist again, and can safely say that I'm looking with great expectation toward the future that my peers and I are going to create.".

Rishi Modi is author of this article on landmark forum. Find more information about landmark education here.

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