Community Voices - Hosting Conversations

In hosting the series of local events we were anxious to create a hospitable, enabling and positive environment for conversation, debate, disagreement and dialogue.  The main priority was to facilitate participation by all those who made an effort to turn up to the events and ensure that all would have a chance to contribute their views and opinions.

To do this we decided to use the tried and tested World Café approach to hosting conversations.  World Café is described as a simple but innovative way to engage people in conversations about questions that matter.  For those interested in finding out more about World Café as a method take a look at www.theworldcafe.com  

Unlike other approaches, the World Café method does not seek to generate consensus about the issues being discussed. Instead it encourages people to express opinions, debate them, disagree even, but ensures that all participants have the autonomy to have their views recorded and respected.  There are no facilitators or recorders of these conversations, other than the participants themselves. 

One of the most challenging and time consuming aspects of hosting conversations is to decide on what questions to ask.  CVRI’s approach to this was to agree a set of questions with those involved in organising the first event in Blackpool in Cork.  We then took feedback on how the questions worked and adjusted the wording for clarity in subsequent events. However, the themes of the questions remained constant in each event. 

So, to the themes.  We asked people to consider four questions:

  • Imagine a time when Ireland might be considered one of the best countries to born, grow up, work, live and grow old in….What would it be like…. What would it look like…feel like?
  • There has been a lot of despair and isolation and loneliness in Ireland in recent time. How can we address and change this?
  • It’s said that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” How can we ensure that we learn from past mistakes
  • From your discussions so far what are the key things that we can do to create a society that is fair and just.

 

 

On this website you will be able to read exactly what each community voices session recorded about these issues and from the accompanying photographs will hopefully see a little of the process involved. Everything recorded by participants was harvested by a group of volunteer students in UL - Michael Casey, Miruna Birsan and Lawal Oludamilare - and was subsequently analysed using NVivo software.