Peace Parcels began in 2015 when Canadian student, Walter Brynjolfson, moved to Bethlehem to enroll in an M.A. in Peace Studies and dabble in socially-conscious entrepreneurial possibilities. His heart broke for Palestinian Christians and in response he wanted to find ways to share their stories with Christians in the West, most of whom seemed oblivious or opposed to their brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.
The idea for his first product, featured on the homepage of this site, came when tensions sky-rocketed between Israelis and Palestinians in early October, a month after he had arrived. A dispute in the Al-Aqsa Mosque (known also as the Temple Mount) led to mass protests across the West Bank. Israeli soldiers were deployed to suppress crowds of young Palestinian protesters. In response to rocks thrown at them, rubber-coated bullets and sometimes live ammunition were fired into the crowds, along with repeated volleys of "Venom Multi-7" Tear Gas Projectiles.
It so happened the hot-spot for these clashes in Bethlehem was on the same street as Bethlehem Bible College where Walter was enrolled in Peace Studies. Upset with the constant plumes of tear gas disturbing his classes, and horrified by all the symptoms of oppression around him, he resolved to find a creative way to re-purpose the hundreds of canisters lying about the neighborhood. A few brainstorming sessions with close friends eventually led to the Tear Gas Canister Christmas Tree Ornament: an art-piece that actively embodies Isaiah's vision of "Swords" being turned into "Plowshares" (Isaiah 2:4).
The ornaments were an immediate sensation. A video made by AJ+ received over 800,000 views on Facebook. Articles were written by online columnists, and in 2017, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo participated in the initiative by promoting it to the world in their Red Letter Christians podcast (episode to be released in early December).