People become fearful about sharing their story or starting a conversation with others but once we do so it can be one of the most enlightening processes.
We all know how much we missed conversations during the pandemic, but the truth is many people felt unheard and isolated before that and still do. That’s the power of the conversation we can not just ‘tell’ stories but share them, connecting one another and growing as a community.
The power of positive psychology in our lives, communities and connections
While our human brains may have a negativity bias we can ensure that we have positive conversations (as well as the odd moan).
Firstly by asking questions, listening to people and sharing a common ground is the key to any good conversation.
But we can ensure that we have positive conversations by exploring what’s strong rather than what’s wrong.
That’s why it’s so important that organisations that work within communities use a ground up approach hearing the voices of experts by lived experience.
Co-production and co-creation
This approach finally has a name for it, but it’s much more than a popular buzzword.
It’s important that we create conversations and work alongside people when starting and developing services rather than simply “doing” to them.
As someone who has had their story told about them out of no choice, my life story was literally and metaphorically written for me and I realised that the most helpful media was to first hear peoples stories rather than assume or label.
But now as a community media trainer and journalist, I’m committed to working alongside people to feel heard.
As an example of working with the community, my local council has pioneered a project training people in the community to have conversations with others in the community to better understand their needs and help them to aspire for their area.
What is The Big Conversation?
The Big Conversation is different to other consultation or engagement methods carried out by the council. It is not a consultation, it is a conversation that will create a sense of hope and opportunity. It will be more of an open ended dialogue where Conversationalists listen to stories rather than lead. It will also give all residents the chance to become more actively involved in the decision making process.
Wakefield Council who launched the initiative, said: “More than 1000 conversations will be taking place throughout the summer. Our conversationalists will be talking and listening to residents to find out what residents value most about their local area as well as their future aspirations for where they live.”
Becoming a conversationalist
As well as delivering community content creation training, I also opted to become a conversationalist as i too live, love and work in my area and I want to be able other peoples voices to be heard.
Conversationalists will ask residents just two questions and from that a conversation will develop.
The questions are:
- What do you most like about living/working/studying around here?
- Imagine your area ten years from now, what would you want life to be like for people around here?
Insight from the conversations will be analysed and key themes will be fed in to a number of Council and district wide plans including the Economic Wellbeing Strategy and Council’s Corporate Plan, the aim of which is to build a fairer future for Wakefield’s residents.
You can find out more at www.bigconversationwakefield.co.uk
What is Community Media?
Community Media is a bottom-up approach to media, stemming from the heart of grassroots communities to enable their stories to blossom into media content with meaning.
It is co-created between community media outlets and communities, particularly marginalised groups. Giving people the voice, choice and skills to thrive across media platforms as well as forging connections.
Rather than those in power controlling the narrative, we give people the power to share their stories in a democratic way.
The Council of Europe recognises the value of community media as a source of local content, cultural and linguistic diversity, media pluralism, social inclusion and intercultural dialogue.