Rancho Cielo 30 Jul 2015

It was such an incredible experience to see a tangible example of peace building in action at Rancho Cielo. Most of the lectures we have been attending are largely theoretical and partially discussion based, and generally, in a purely intellectual environment it is becomes easy to fall into a continuously critical or even pessimistic mode. Being at Rancho Cielo, however, was uplifting. I will not pretend to claim that it is a perfect institution – I can easily forecast critical attacks on such aspects as its largely privatised funding, its collaboration with the police force (especially due to much of the recent discourse on police violence in America), and so on. However, just because peace building projects can never be perfect in the sense of satisfying every theoretical opinion, does not mean that they 1) should not be attempted, or 2) are not worthwhile. From the beautiful garden, to the immaculately constructed houses, the grand amphitheatre and the impressive kitchen, it was clear to me that the Salinas youth involved in Rancho Cielo built the infrastructure of their new community with prideful effort. This, and the numerous individual and interpersonal benefits that are implicated by it, was a striking example of how peace building is multifaceted, certainly achievable, and profoundly life-altering for many who are involved.