For the last couple of years I’ve been listening to Denis Stewart talk about Civic Conversations. Last summer I got to take part in one (in Riddell Hall) and again earlier this year (in the Crescent Arts Centre). This time, it’s in the MAC.
A further gathering of citizens in this place to continue with ‘civic conversation’ – conversation that is both aspirational and grounded, visionary and pragmatic.
This gathering will provide opportunity for open conversation. And there will also be time for more focused talking together about themes that emerged in from the civic conversation that took place in February. What should the next chapter in Northern Ireland’s story say? What can be done to help shape and write that ‘next story’?
But what is a Civic Conversation?
To find out, you will have to come along but I’ll give you my perspectives.
- At the Conversation last year, Graham and Andrew from the International Futures Forum and Denis put forward the notion that arguments are disagreements among friends.
- At the February Conversation, I proposed my basic position was to hold everyone in high regard. I explained this in terms of agape, that being passionately committed to the well-being of others was not a religious exclusive.
- Another participant mentioned that it was cathartic to talk about the things Northern Ireland does not talk about.
- Earlier this week, having lunch with Denis, I said my aim for this Conversation was to leave on better terms with the individuals involved than I had been at the start.
These events are driven by the people who need to be there. People for whom being part of the architecture of the future of Northern Ireland is without question. People who know we must move forwards. If that describes you, I’m sure you’ll be there.