When people move to a new city, they often check maps to find different information points, facts, and figures about a potential neighborhood.
Each school, market, crime area, and other data points become dots on a map. If you see enough of them in one space, you might think twice about an opportunity to move to that area.
Artist Saira Siddiqui wants people to think differently about this information. As a community organizer, nonprofit manager, and an urban planner, she discovered that the data people seek tends to come from a negative perspective. []
After returning to Buffalo in 2019, Siddiqui noticed that the news focused on segregation, extreme wealth gaps, and the idea that people there were not good neighbors. She decided to change that perspective by starting The Peace Dots Project.
Anyone Can Submit Peace Dots for Consideration
Siddiqui is collecting the stories of random acts of kindness with The Peace Dots Project. Although the initial goal was to feature Buffalo, anyone around the world can submit an encounter that happened to them.
Siddiqui has submissions available through the website peacedotsproject.com, social media submissions (@peacedotsproject), and even in physical locations throughout the community in Buffalo all of which allow anyone to submit specific moments of kindness they experienced.
One of the unique features of this awareness project is that people can select different colors to mark where a random act of kindness is noted on the map.
She encourages everyone to keep things simple, even if it is a wave or a smile that brightens your day. “Don’t think too hard,” she writes on her site. “What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Then use that moment.”
Everyone is encouraged to keep coming back to submit as many moments as they want.
On the online form, the submission field includes a box where you can describe, in detail, what happened – or what you saw someone else do. There’s a field for the location, when it happened, and the color that comes to mind when thinking about the moment's emotions.
For those who have a photo of the random act of kindness, you can submit it with your peace dot. Each is then placed on a world map based on the location.
Although it started with just Buffalo,NY, Siddiqui has since received submissions from Hawaii to South Africa.
“If we continually share that we are a city of crime and racism, perhaps that narrative will continue to live on,” writes Siddiqui, “but I believe we have a choice. A choice to shift our mindset and focus on the future we want. By doing so, we manifest it.”
What Happens After the Data Gets Collected?
The Peace Dots Project is more than a new way to look at data collection for communities.
As the stories come in throughout 2022, Siddiqui will not only share this on the digital platforms described but use her artistic expression and turn the information received into an oil painting. That allows the project to have a body of work representing the different stories and encounters that people submit.
“I like to dabble in a whole lot of different types of expression,” Saddiqui writes. “I am an artist who loves spending my days helping awesome people feel more joyful and confident.”
Turning Positivity into Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
A self-fulfilling prophecy is the physical outcome of a situation influenced by individualized thinking. It is often negative, which Siddiqui sees in the information we track online or see in the news.
There can also be positive self-fulfilling prophecies that occur. According to Robert Merton, a person’s expectations can come true because someone acts on those beliefs as if they already happened. []
- Form an expectation of yourself, someone else, or a specific location.
- Express the expectations with verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Watch others adjust their communication and behavior to match the message.
- Turn the expectations into a reality.
- Have the confirmation strengthen individual beliefs to repeat the cycle.
When someone believes they can do well, they’re more likely to put in more effort to achieve a successful outcome. If adversity strikes, people with a positive mindset are more likely to rebound, focus on the task, and be more relaxed while working toward goals.
If someone believes the opposite, the negative expectation leads to less effort, quitting, and a lack of concentration. This change happens because the mind experiences anxiety and becomes preoccupied with failure. []
Siddiqui hopes that The Peace Dots Project creates a shift from negative to positive perspectives so that Buffalo and other cities can tap into the power of mood and emotion.
[] Saira Siddiqui - (vividbuffalo.com); [] https://nobelcoaching.com/self-fulfilling-prophecy/; [] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/self-fulfilling-prophecy ; [] https://drpatrickkeelan.com/psychology/expect-the-best-and-get-it-how-to-use-self-fulfilling-prophecies-to-your-advantage/