Democracy and participation, Civic education

Debates in the PRESSURE COOKER

We facilitate interactive debates about issues that polarise our communities, such as women’s reproductive rights, pornography, and a marriage.

Creators

Who is behind this?

Lívia Halmkan

Tlakový hrniec (in translation Pressure Cooker)

https://tlakovyhrniec.sk/

Slovakia

Idea

Idea pitch

How can a society deal with difficult moral issues if we don’t know how to communicate, if we are unable to articulate our own opinions, and challenge opposing views without being mocked? Are we able to create a safe space, where any opinions are allowed? We do just that! We are already debating in colleges, but we’d like to extend our work into a public square and organise a series of public debates on hot topics that seem to be too hot to handle.

Where will your project idea take place?

colleges and smaller public spaces across Slovakia

What is the local challenge?

After most recent Slovakian election people are even more polarized then before. Some welcome the more conservative government, while some feel very threatened. Online discussions and commentaries between conservatives and liberals only add to the heat.
In today’s online time, enhanced by pandemic lock down restrictions, the gap between opposing opinions is even greater and dialogue between them even rarer or harsher. The need for human face-to-face dialogue is very underestimated. People seem to think, it is impossible to socialize, collaborate or be friends with someone holding a different opinion.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

We’d like to burst these isolated opinion bubbles by facilitating debates, which will touch on even most taboo topics, especially those that divide conservatives from liberals.
We’d like to give an opportunity to students and general public to debate each other face to face, in a safe environment. Our debates don’t rely on expert speakers; on contrary the audience become the speakers. The format of our debates is designed in such a way, that the present audience is actively involved in debating.
We seek to present the idea, that whilst one might disagree with someone on an important moral issue, they might find they agree on a different important issue. We seek to find new bridges, prevent "burning all of the bridges" and prevent even worse conflicts between these two groups.

Who are you doing it for?

We have 2 target audiences.
1. College students. We have several years of experience debating in colleges and we would like to continue to do so, targeting schools with lower academic results. Students have a whole variety of opinions on moral issues. We are in contact with college principals which will allocate us a time and space for the debates in their schools.
Students are welcomed to also join public debates (bellow).

2. Public debates
We will approach 2 key figures (organisations) which hold opposite opinion on a certain issue (i.e pro-choice V pro life). In united effort we will organise a public debate, which will attract people from both sides. The debates should be small in size (no bigger then 50 people) to allow for audience to formulate and express their opinions.

How do you plan to get there?

In our debates everyone is an active participant. Nobody is just a observer, everyone is welcomed to join in. It works with passionate students and adults, because apart from "wrestling" with opinions, they also learn basic debating skills (listening, building a case, refuting), necessary for civil discussion.
1. we will create a manual, train 2-3 debate supervisor
2. debate in COLLEGES which are already familiar with us from previous years
- We are confident we can hold 100 college debates per year (in average 15 students at each)
- network with new college
3. - Test a first PUBLIC DEBATE with internal audience and the trained staff. Gain everyones feedback and fine tunes it.
- Open the debates to the public. We aim to achieve 10 public debates per year, max 50 people per debate

What are the expected results?

- We learn the most about our own views when confronted with different views. It forces us to understand the "reasoning of the others", and even if we continue to disagree, we might at least respect each other. Success would be more understanding and respect for our opponents and even join effort is some of the activities, for example: - it would be great if pro life and pro choice NGO's can unite in effort to help women in crises pregnancies (offer vital help and support)
- success would be if NGO's with opposing views stop sabotaging each other, rather focus on what they can do for public
- success would be if we have less unplanned pregnancies and more help for women in crises pregnancies
- more awareness about harmful effects of porn use (the average age of first porn view is 9)

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

- Democracy can only work if freedom of speech and expression is allowed.
In the very polarised culture this freedom of speech and expression is threatened as people seem to accuse each other of hate speech for the 'wrong' opinion. It only results in a silence on a very important issues and fear. Our debates will minimise the fear and give confidence for expression.
- A good debater takes responsibility for what he/she SAYS publicly as it effects whole community. Good debating skills will help to exchange ideas in the public square.
- A good debater is good at critical thinking. He/she doesn't get convinced by popular and easy solutions to pressing issues that each democracy faces.
- We seek to find new bridges between conservatives and liberals as there are very few left.

What is your story?

Im the director of the NGO applying for your funding. I consider myself being conservative yet Im married to liberal. Im christian, married to an atheist. Yet our marriage is long and happy (OK sometimes not :)
My marriage defeats most odds. Im aware that these differences seem to create huge gaps in our society, maybe even beyond repair. I have family and friends in both camps and it pains me when listening to opinions on both sides, when listening to misconceptions about the 'other' group. Im horrified when confronted with peoples reluctance to debate with the 'other' group. The reason is often fear for being mocked or even worse: arrogance.
I established the NGO and created the debates in colleges in effort to close the gap between these 2 worlds, as I know it is possible.

€ 42100,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 49300,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Honoraria (experts fees, training etc) : 2000 €
Personnel costs (project admin, project and financial management, debate leaders etc) : 33600 €
Other expenses (debate manual, promo etc) 2000 €
Accomodation/travel: 3000 €
Office expenses : 1500 €

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

I'd like to network with other NGO's that work with a similar themes and target audiences.

Team

Pressure Cooker

Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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