Just over a week to go until Democracy Outside kicks off in Bristol (Saturday 16th, 2pm at the Harbourside Area opposite the Hippodrome) and at Democracy Outside HQ we’re getting excited – the placards are ready, the leaflets are at the printer, the megaphone has arrived, and the banner is being sewn.
Now the burning question is: what questions shall we ask the people of Bristol to get our dialogue about democracy going?
Questions are key to the whole process. In fact, thinking about it, it seems to me that asking questions is pretty much key to getting anything moving – in any field of enquiry, the search begins with asking questions. For example:
Invention, e.g. Margaret Atwood: “How can I sign books without travelling across the country to a bookstore?” http://www.internetwritingjournal.com/blog/221061
Research, working out what answer you want to get involves formulating the right questions: http://www.internetwritingjournal.com/blog/221061
Education – just think about little children always asking ‘Why?’ It gets annoying, it’s true, but it forces the adults around them to come up with answers. And because children are so persistent with their questions, we have to go further and further with our answers. (Sadly that child may soon reach a point where the teacher or the school curriculum says: “Well, because that’s just the way it is.” At that point it’s time to go and get a library card and start self-educating, start reading the books that aren’t on the curriculum.)
And the key to keeping moving, to sustaining the momentum is to not stop when you get an answer, because every answer contains the essence of a new question. The key is to keep asking questions, just as annoying children do, and when you get an answer, reformulate that as your next question.
But it’s also about asking the right questions. And asking the right kinds of questions. For scientific enquiry, or getting to the bottom of things, or developing a new idea and honing it, “why” and “how” questions are great.
But for dialogue, you need the kind of questions that you can answer with “Yes”, “No” – or “Maybe”…
In Democracy Outside we’re concerned with getting people to articulate and share their views. And when they hear others’ views, change their position, shift their perspective, move a little (or a lot), and start to see things in a new light. So we ask questions like:
“Should the voting age be lowered to 16?”
“Do we have a free press in this country?”
So what are the key questions about democracy that we need to develop through dialogue next week in Bristol?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DemocracyOutside, and we’ll pose the best to the people of Bristol on 16th June. And if you can, come along and explore the answers with us!
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Democracy Outside is also supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England