Not just a talking shop

TP Pol EngagementReport on the Talk Shop (Crowd Wise) Training for Facilitators (26 February 2015)

Just to let you know yesterday’s event went really well. There were nine participants and three facilitators. We had 2 apologies on the day. Everyone learned a great deal about Crowd Wise ( ), particularly those, who had already experienced an event as a participant. Those, who hadn’t, found it harder to understand the format while also thinking how they might deliver it. This was simpler if you’d already attended a previous Talk Shop event.

One of the many interesting suggestions was to test the question under discussion, ‘What should we do about inequality in Britain?’ and the resulting 5 ‘stances’ in the WEA Engagement group on Facebook. For example, Governments should work together to reduce tax avoidance by both wealthy individuals and companies (particularly multi-nationals) was one of them. We also discovered how important it is to have notes on the ‘pros and cons’ of each stance so to feed the development of people’s views and aid discussion.

Perry (Walker, the facilitator from NEF) asked us to use the three questions for feedback from each event and let him have the data as part of the ongoing research he is doing into why some people engage in political discussion and others don’t. Using a 1-5 scale, he asked:

  • How safe did you feel to have your say and state your opinion?
  • How enjoyable did you find the event?
  • How constructive did you find the conversation?

I suggested inviting Perry Walker and his team back in 6 months’ time (Sept/Oct 2015) to review our progress and deliver more training for facilitators, if required.

And a big thanks to Lee and Foxy of Toxteth TV, who made us feel very welcome and provided an outstanding buffet and refreshments. A couple of drummers even turned up at the end but they were too coy to play, as drummers often are, on this occasion, unlike on our first visit back in October 2014 when we were treated to a fantastic performance by a drumming group.

And experiencing the process, I was curious to note a couple of feelings. One was to do with ‘Power’. Feeling you have it, or not. Being approached by others with a proposal to merge and join forces can make you feel more ‘powerful’, even if this proves to be an illusion. Equally, I have felt isolated watching as other groups made larger alliances. But sticking to my principles, leaving me feeling ‘powerless’, was that so bad? And was I ‘powerless’? It raises many interesting questions to walk with.

The other was the thrill of delivering an impassioned speech in one minute about the state of society and how and why it needed to change. I didn’t know I had it in me. There is a lot to be learned about the continuing power or oratory, the spoken word, on both the speaker and the audience listening.

If you’re interested in this, come along and find out for yourself. The next Talk Shop on Housing is on the 26 March 2015 at 7pm. The subject is Housing. Read more here . The venue is The Ship and Mitre Inn, Tithebarne Street, Liverpool (behind the old Mersey tunnel).

The final one in this pre-election series, on Immigration, is on 28 April at 7pm.



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