Civic Conversation in Northern Ireland
by Graham LEICESTER for International Futures Forum
11 May 2015

Our friend and colleague Denis Stewart, now officially IFF Converger (Ireland), has been working patiently for some years to foster what the philosopher A C Grayling has called ‘civic conversation’ in his part of the world.

This is founded on the simple idea that we need civic spaces in which citizens can engage in open conversation about issues that matter to them.

The idea is catching on and talk about the need for civic conversation is on the increase in contexts as varied as the Green Party in Northern Ireland and Queen’s University Belfast.

During March, Civic Conversation in the Café, co-hosted by IFF and our very supportive partner the Northern Ireland Foundation, featured in the programme for Imagine!, a new Belfast festival of politics. A short film of one of the events, produced by Northern Visions TV, conveys the flavour of the initiative.

Is it possible, Denis asks, that small actions – such as people gathering in civic venues to engage in creative, courteous conversation about things that matter to them as citizens – could be sowing the seeds of a new, healthier political ecosystem?

Meanwhile, and most recently, civic conversation has become a key feature of the work of Voluntary Arts Ireland, a charity dedicated to cultivating a healthy, creative and engaged civic society across the island of Ireland. Watch this civic space!

Originally published: http://www.internationalfuturesforum.com/newsletter-may-2015

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