Democracy and participation, Community development

Depolarisation through Pub(lic) Talks

Facilitated Face to Face Dialogue Platform as a tool for Depolarisation in Smaller Cities

Creators

Who is behind this?

Lukáš Zorád

Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia

https://en.pdcs.sk/

Slovakia

Idea

Idea pitch

We aim at establishing popular Pub(lic) Talk format that will enable respectful dialogue on controversial issues among diverse groups of local people, increasing mutual understanding, empathy and strengthening the local communities. These won´t be just regular frontal discussions with passive participants or workshops for closed groups of carefully selected people, here everyone will have enough space to express themselves.

Where will your project idea take place?

Across Slovakia in 15 locations.

What is the local challenge?

Slovakia is facing severe polarisation and diminishing understanding of how democracy works. In the time of social media, we observe a negative trend of disappearing opportunities for naturally occurring face to face confrontations with people of differing opinions and values. Majority of political and value debates happen online, where people´s opinions and values are getting radicalised hence the local communities are losing mutual understanding and are becoming weaker. There are missing platforms and formats that would enable constructive an empathetic dialogue among local citizens outside of their circle of friends. Safe space where people can be heard and can talk freely.

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

Through our project more people, who are strangers to each other, naturally get to know each other. Unexpected relationships and partnerships will emerge. From various research we know that stronger communities are one of the most powerful tools to overcome destructive polarisation and to facilitate more resilient society. We also expect increased understanding of differing views and empathy towards various groups of people. Through the Pub(lic) Talks format the local citizens are not just passive event attendants but become active contributors to the dialogue.

Who are you doing it for?

The Pub(lic) Talks will be open to public, to individuals or groups of friends who come together. The events will be carried out in smaller towns and cities, that are lacking opportunities for structured public dialogue, but large enough to encompass wide range of participants with differing values and opinions. Except for commercial pubs and cafés, we aim at engaging community centres, youth clubs and senior clubs.

Plurality of opinions will be achieved through advance registration system with small questionnaires that enable the organisers to select diverse groups for the event. Promotion materials will be designed and distributed through various channels to attract the interest of various people.

How do you plan to get there?

1) Developing the concept of the Pub(lic) Talk format (expert committee, 5-7 people: PDCS experts 2, pub owner, event manager, PR expert), 3 creative meetings
2) Testing the new Pub(lic) Talk format and improve it based on feedback from the participants
3) Two trainings: Pub(lic) Talk Dialogue organising and facilitation: for the event managers, youth and community centres program managers and promoters
4) Creation of Pub(lic) Talks Design Manual - a guide how to run Pub(lic) Talks
5) 15 Pub(lic) Talks events (at least 20 people each) = 300 participants in 15 cities run by the trained event managers, trials co-facilited by PDCS experts.

What are the expected results?

We anticipate
1) strengthened capacities of local pub owners, event managers and community organisers to carry out facilitated public dialogue on controversial topics. Currently many are afraid to engage in such as they feel they lack the capacities and skilled to ensure safe space.

2) strengthened local communities: natural alliances among Pub(lic) Talks participants will emerge based on mutual interests and increased understanding.

This will contribute to lessened the polarising tensions among local citizens as empathy and understanding will be naturally built.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

In Europe we see diminishing trust among citizens and increasing polarisation in a similar way as in Slovakia. Various groups confront each other mostly only through impersonal social media and loose empathy and understanding and create distorted picture of "the others". In general, this poses big thread to democracy and dialogue. If this pilot idea of Pub(lic) Talks succeeds in Slovakia there is a potential for expansion of the format to other European countries and one of the reasons why we want to run this trial in Slovakia is that we feel confident that through our European networks and collaborations, we will be able to expand it to other countries.

What is your story?

We are seeking for various tools and methods to facilitate depolarisation in Slovakia and other countries. We are developing the idea of Pub(lic) Talks based on our experience from facilitating public dialogues and participatory processes as we have seen the positive effects it has on people. We want to seed these methods to many places because we can see the built up frustrations of local citizens that often stems up from impersonal misunderstandings and miscommunication or just from simply feeling left behind. We believe that we can facilitate positive experience that increases democratic public engagement.

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 50000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Personnel costs (project and financial management) 13.500 €
Honoraria (expert fees, facilitation, trainings etc) 19.000€
Travel and accommodation, 6.500 €
Other services (videos production, manual production, promotion) 10.000 €
Office expenses 1.000 €

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

It would be valuable to hear about other similar examples of any public events that are successful in engaging people in open dialogue as we plan to incorporate such experience into the development of the model.

Team

PDCS

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

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