Positive Deviant: Angela Mastrodoménico
Company: Paz mi Pez
Location: Bogotá, Colombia

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Angela Mastrodoménico leads a movement of nearly a million followers across her social media channels. Her message is peace and that one only needs to look inward to create it. This is a well-tread concept in spiritual and meditative traditions, but that does not make it any less revolutionary. People are tired of conflict and are thirsty for peace, especially in Colombia. Paz mi Pez is both a symptom of this thirst and a catalyst for satiating it.

The idea for Paz mi Pez arose from Angela's frustration over the prevailing conflict in her country and the fact that the word peace had become an extremely politicized term. People were fighting for the way peace should be achieved. It’s from this reality that the name of the movement emerged. The phrase Paz mi Pez denotes friendship, a closer relationship between beings. It simplifies peace, depoliticizes it, bringing it into everyday life as something that has the potential to always be present, expressed in acts between individuals.

Long-lasting peace is not built vertically; it is not a coercive exercise. It is organic. It comes from the inside out. It must be cultivated and nourished within the hearts and minds of the people. In this way, peace at all levels of society can last through generations. This is the dream of Paz mi Pez. For this reason, Angela began her peace movement as an exercise of introspection, with specific calls to action which she now shares on her social media platforms as an expression of the love that arose when she herself found this peace. In her messages she combines the reflective with the pragmatic.

Quántica: Initially, we would like you to share with us what Paz mi Pez is and has been.

Angela Mastrodoménico: The objective of Paz mi Pez is to show how, in daily life, one can create peace. Peace is on the inside and in our surroundings, too. It is a medium that gives voice to a player who is often overlooked in the dialogue of peace: individual peace. It is a recognition that our inner lives profoundly impact the quality of our external life, our interactions, our relationships, our successes and how we deal with failure.

It is a simple idea. The more peace I experience inside, the more peace I experience in my outer life. The idea is simple, the execution is difficult. Because it is about forming new habits. So, what I started initially was to simply communicate the idea to people to awaken a vision that could form those new habits.

I started making t-shirts: communication tools. Then the exercise: be coherent and clear with the message. And finally, the goal: to carry that message to as many people as possible. A T-shirt is a great communication tool for this purpose. The first shirt simply said: Paz mi Pez. I made 20 shirts, 10 for men, 10 for women. And that's how it all began.

Also, I created a Facebook page to share weekly phrases and challenges like, "Smile at at least one stranger this week," or "hug your grandfather," things like that. It was really informal. But the phrases took off, the page took off, and so did the sale of the shirts. It was an accidental social enterprise that grew organically out of a desire to cultivate peace. The market, as they say, responded to this need! I was not the only one with this desire to cultivate peace.

Q: And how has Paz mi Pez evolved to this day?

AM: The core remains the same. We are still quite active on social networks, Facebook and Instagram mainly, sharing weekly phrases and challenges as has been done since the beginning. Of course, now we have many more followers and part of the challenge is to be available and open to interact with all that activity. But that's why Paz mi Pez exists and continues to do so, people want to join the conversation.

We have taken that conversation to real life as well and to paths of action. With workshops around Colombia (for example, in schools) and workshops with Quantica, with whom we are disseminating peace tools and community action methodologies so that through the cultivation of peace in our inner lives we also feel capable and driven to catalyze positive changes in our communities too.

Of course, the sale of T-shirts has skyrocketed and, while still a key communication tool, they also support the economic needs of the project. Any social entrepreneur understands the need for this balance. Fortunately, we have been able to find it.

Q: What ambitions do you have for the future of Paz mi Pez?

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AM: In addition to having our own cultural center, with workshops, spiritual projects, dance, art and more, I hope that every Colombian has at least one Paz my Pez shirt in his or her closet. If everyone has a football shirt, why not a shirt for peace too? It is not a vision of financial returns, but of the benefits of peace. It would mean that almost 50 million people would have been touched by the message of cultivating peace from the inside out. And hopefully live this philosophy a little more with each passing day.

Q: What is the first step that someone can take to cultivate peace?

AM: It is less important where or how you take that first step. The important thing is that you take it. When you act, the universe responds. Talk to someone, investigate, take any small action and the universe will begin to show you new doors, new opportunities for future actions.

That's how it was for me with Paz mi Pez. I took small actions and from day 1, things continued to emerge, from one action to another. The uncertainty is natural. Not everything has to be perfectly clear. It was not for me. But trust comes from the understanding that there will always be a part of your trip or your vision that has not yet been revealed.

Have confidence in yourself, and be able to risk yourself. If your intentions are sincere, it is your duty to put them into action! Because if you are doing it from your heart and your soul, you are doing well.

Q: Thank you for sharing all this inspiration with us. Now, one last question: What would you do if you knew it was your last day on earth?

AM: I would lie down on the grass, I would think of all the people in my life, in the world, and I would send them love.