Civic Innovation Programme 2021-2022

Political Education & Participative Democracy Workshops 2021-2022
June 22, 2021
The Practitioner’s Forum
June 22, 2021

Building A Unified Civic Society Voice and Vision for our Future

the absence of a unifying vision in post-conflict societies is the single greatest obstacle to achieving lasting peace”.
John Paul Lederach

Background to the Programme:

Despite the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, our communities remain polarised, maintaining conflicting visions that are preventing progress towards a future where we all feel that we belong equally, share the same opportunities and participate fully.

Our society is trapped in a sectarian system of voting that prioritises keeping the other side out above our shared needs and politics here often seems compelled to respond to issues through an Orange or Green lens. Meanwhile, we are facing unprecedented threats to our way of life including Covid-19 and unfolding climate change that require unprecedented collective actions.

We know, from our extensive community engagement experience, that people who get the chance to understand each other’s positions through dialogue are good at resolving differences and agreeing shared solutions. They have the capacity to reach agreement on a vision for our collective future and on the practical steps to achieve it. Our extensive society-wide consultation tells us that our citizens are hungry for this opportunity.

Purpose of the Programme:

“Northern Ireland is full of such people and their experience of exclusion is reinforced by our unresolved legacy of conflict, and by political systems that alienate them. This project provides them with the opportunity to empower themselves, to become socially engaged, to build a collective vision, and to challenge the attitudes and systems inhibiting their participation.”
David Holloway, Director, Community Dialogue

Our Northern Ireland-wide programme offers a range of facilitated Consensus-Building Dialogues in conjunction with Capacity-Building Political Education and Participative Democracy Workshops, supported by a Coalition-building Platform and focused Advocacy engagement. This Project gives participants the opportunity to empower themselves, to become socially engaged, to build a collective vision, to be heard, and to challenge the attitudes structures and systems inhibiting their participation.

The programme is designed to nurture a relationship between dialogue practice and political education, to better enable participants to identify how it looks and feels to have their voices heard. Supporting the development of both emotional and political literacy.

The project contains four tiers, all of which will commence simultaneously over the next 18 months. Events and workshops will take place online and eventually face-to-face as Covid restrictions lift. The tiers include:

Tier 1: Consensus-Building Dialogues – facilitated discussions and large scale events covering a range of topics effecting NI, building consensus together to tackle these issues.

Tier 2: ‘Participative Democracy’ Workshops – building the capacity of the grassroots to make their voices heard and exploring alternative mechanisms for decision-making

Tier 3: Cross-Sectoral Coalition – this project aims to establish a synergistic network of stakeholders to host 24 advocacy engagements, utilising participant-derived outcomes to support further projects that address the needs of those shut out of politics.

Tier 4: Learning & Promotion – findings, action plans and project feedback will fuel research, learning materials and inspire models of good practice to benefit future generations and better inform public policy.

Through this process, we will evolve an empowered, united, civic voice and participative movement, working to transform a shared vision for the future into reality, working to ensure that the experiences of being voiceless or of not belonging in this place, are something future generations will only ever read about in our history books.

Our team includes experienced dialogue facilitators from Community Dialogue and our extensive Facilitators Network together with our diverse community partners, and experts in participative democracy engagement, public relations and advocacy.

Further Information:

You can read more about our civic innovation programme in the article by Northern Slant, here: How You Can Help Build a Strong Civic Voice with Community Dialogues | Northern Slant

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