Talking Society is an intercultural programme for community conversations, co-created by Building Bridges and In-Situ with The People Speak.
We work in close partnership to enable dialogue in our communities through the creation of events and activities that enable open, sometimes mass conversations where the focus is determined by those taking part.
We want to listen, hold space and understand the many different viewpoints about everyday life here in Pendle, politics, health, leisure, the future of our shared and individual experiences. These conversations take place within an environment that seeks to uphold safety, dignity, tolerance and respect.
Since 2012 we have worked with The People Speak, and their artistic invention, Talkaoke, to facilitate mass conversations democratically. Talkaoke is a pop-up community conversation around a table where participants set the agenda. Shaped like a doughnut, it consists of a table with a trained host sitting in the middle, who supports a free-flowing conversation between anyone around the table.
Talkaoke facilitates conversations across the community and with it we have discussed topics such as knife crime, unemployment, cultural identities and language, sexual health and a pledge for Pendle.
Talkaoke can pop up more or less anywhere! We’ve held conversations in town centres, libraries, outside fast-food chains, in car parks, schools and community centres and at events at The Garage. We offer people from the community opportunities to train to facilitate conversations at regular training events.
Talkaoke is the creation of artist Mikey Weinkove of The People Speak. We work with Talkaoke as part of Talking Society, an intercultural community programme co-created by Building Bridges and
Digital Talking Society
During COVID-19 lockdowns, we moved Talking Society online. Going from an open format, free-flowing conversation that pops up in public spaces, Digital Talking Society was instead planned around specific conversations that related to the way the community was dealing with and responding to the challenges of the pandemic.
There were pros and cons to is. We were able to move the format to Zoom relatively easily, and gain new and bigger audiences but the mechanisms of Zoom altered the democratic way that Talking Society functioned.
Throughout 2020, we held some significant conversations that brought the public together with statutory and voluntary agencies, around themes such as grief, community provision for vulnerable residents, connecting with the landscape and creative local responses. Coming out of Covid we are seeking a hybrid model which blends pop up IRL with a digital element which enables more people to take part.