‘Civic Conversations’ is a regular gathering organised by Denis Stewart and facilitated by ‘International Futures Forum‘. The last one was at the Linen Hall Library in Belfast on Friday 6th September 2013.
Its main aim (as I understand it) is to bring people in Northern Ireland together to engage in conversation. Conversation is something often taken for granted as assumptions over how well versed we are at it are often based on how often we speak with family, neighbours, colleagues, and yet it is only when in conversation with strangers that you discover that it is a skill that requires constant practice, not only with others but with yourself.
The event was several hours of conversation; conversation about conversation; conversing on the art of conversation; pointless conversation and pointed conversation (these are my interpretations). It was truly fascinating and liberating to sit down without any explicit agenda and converse with other citizens on a range of topics including education, religion, politics, business, climate change and even architecture.
The event has been running, to my understanding, for a year now with a gathering every few months. Given the impasse which is still present at Stormont, a little more conversation might just be what is required to oil the political cogs on the hill and in the city.
Inspired by what I witnessed and heard, I offered to capture a few snapshots of the event in re-presenting bits of the conversation visually using the same method I am developing for my PhD thesis research.