Issue 5.2 | August 2001 | Information in this issue may be out of date.
From Mines to Vines
Roots of Peace was founded in 1997 with a clear mission—“to rid the world of landmines by transforming toxic minefields into thriving farm land” and also into vineyards. Founder/Director Heidi Kuhn established the non-profit NGO based in California’s wine country after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. “Her legacy in catapulting the issue of landmines to the forefront of the international agenda during the last few weeks of her life inspired the hearts of global citizens to care about these deadly seeds of destruction,” says Kuhn.
In December 2000, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs (HDP) joined efforts with Roots of Peace to launch a $1 million (U.S.) ad campaign designed to make San Francisco, CA, and Washington, D.C. residents and commuters aware of the threat of landmines. Advertisements displayed in backlit bus shelters force area residents and commuters to imagine the effect landmines would have on their lives. In addition, these advertisements provide information for residents and commuters interested in participating in the landmine effort through donations to Roots of Peace and the Slovenian International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victim Assistance. “This project is a prime example of public-private partnerships working together for peace,” Kuhn said. Contributions from Digitas Advertising Agency, Infinity Outdoor and BelAire Displays made the awareness campaign possible. The campaign ran from December 2000 to April 2001 in San Francisco and is still on display in Washington, D.C.
The Roots of Peace solution, involving the removal of landmines/UXO, also includes public-private partnerships with companies such as AutoDesk, a software company working to assist demining activities worldwide. In cooperation with AutoDesk, Roots of Peace supports greater use of sophisticated Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. With the right data and information gathered and plotted accurately on digital maps, demining decisions are better and safer, eliminating many of the threats faced by men and dogs in the field.
Treatment & Restoration
As part of the solution to eliminating the threat of
landmines, Roots of Peace also provides victims with physical,
psychological and social treatment and rehabilitation. In addition, land
affected by landmines is also restored for productive, environmentally
responsible and sustainable agricultural use.
Representing the private sector were Heidi Kuhn, Founder/Director of Roots of Peace; Ann Laurence, Treasurer of the San Rafael Rotary Club; Bill Rus, Senior Analyst for AutoDesk; Richard Koch, Director of Public Relations for AutoDesk; Victoria Stack, President of International Communication Initiative; and Ali Gallagher, Landmine Consultant for the University of Texas in Austin.
The Roots of Peace Initiative
Just five months after the joint venture to Croatia, Roots of Peace collected its resources and funds totaling $500,000 and began its four-front initiative in the designated region of Zadar. Roots of Peace headed clearance operations that took place in the Croatian villages of Dragalic, Ciste Male and Ciste Velika.
In May 2000, Roots of Peace completed its first international demining initiative in the Croatian village of Dragalic. As a result of the Balkan War (1991—1995), Dragalic’s fields contained countless landmines/UXO. Through the Adopt-A-Minefield program, Roots of Peace funded and implemented projects clearing approximately 9,000 square kilometers of land. In addition to clearance operations, Roots of Peace also replanted fields with grapevines in the once war-torn region.
Roots of Peace finished its second demining project in the villages of Ciste Male and Ciste Velika during July 2000. In collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Embassy, and the International Trust Fund, Roots of Peace demined over 100 acres of land in the two villages.Conclusion
Since 1997, the humanitarian efforts of Roots of Peace have led to funding and implementation of landmine awareness, removal, treatment and restoration. Kuhn attributes the success of the Roots of Peace solution and initiatives that convert landmine-laden fields into plentiful farmland to the “persistence and partnership [of] ordinary citizens [who have turned] ideas into reality.”
*All photos courtesy of Roots of Peace
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