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Workshop in Barcelona 28/29 October: Difficult conversations in polarised times

We are delighted to announce that we are hosting our first in-person Protopia Lab workshop 'Difficult conversations in polarised times' on 28 and 29 October 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. We are bringing together an international group of 20 courageous, open-minded, and intellectually diverse people to have 'difficult conversations’ about how we want to and can live together, now and in the future. Public conversation of our most important social and ecological problems has become highly dysfunctional. Journalism and academia seem less and less focused on the search for truth and instead have become partisan gatekeepers of their particular moral worldview. Similarly, political decisions are increasingly driven by social media outrage and elite moralism, rather than careful consideration of how to improve the lives of ordinary people. Those who dare to cross the multiple red lines often see their careers crashed and reputations destroyed. This increased dogmatism and the shutdown of pluralistic conversation stifles the creativity that is needed for solving our most pressing, deep-rooted social and ecological problems. If we want to have a chance for a prosperous, peaceful and self-determined future, we need to talk. Urgently. We need to start having real and honest conversations about the root causes of our problems. We need to stop believing that those we disagree with are evil and we are morally superior. We need to learn how to truly listen to each other's perspectives. What to expect With this workshop we want to plant the seeds for a better conversation on our most pressing problems. We want to start creating a network of open-minded, thoughtful people who are keen to learn from each other about how we can challenge our own ideological biases and start exploring wiser solutions to our problems. Questions we propose for the workshop:

  • How can we overcome ideological divides and find better solutions to the meta-crisis we’re facing? Ecological crisis, cultural crisis (breakdown of community, family), meaning crisis (decline of religion), energy crisis, inequality etc.

  • Can we synthesise ideas from different bodies of wisdom for real human flourishing? What was good in our traditional culture that we are losing/have lost and should preserve/recover? What is good about modernity and the enlightenment that we want to keep? And which post-modern ideas and cultural practices are making life better which don't?

We will design a workshop that is experiential, exploratory and experimental. We will practice methods such as Mindfulness and Socratic dialogue that help us develop awareness about our own cognitive biases and practice seeing things from multiple perspectives. We are delighted to be joined by philosopher Nina Power, who recently wrote the book 'What Do Men Want?' where she seeks to carve out a new path for how men and women can reach a true mutual understanding. Nina loves dialogue, disagreement and defending unpopular positions. How to join If you would like to participate, please take 10 minutes of your time to fill in this questionnaire and we will get back to you swiftly. You are requested to commit to full participation during both days: Friday, 28 October 9am to 6pm Saturday, 29 October 9am to 3pm We will organise a dinner on the evening of 27 October so that we can get to know each other before the workshop. We will also organise a dinner on 28 October and provide for lunch, coffee and snacks on both workshop days. The workshop takes place in a beautiful venue in the centre of Barcelona (c. Mallorca, 207). We are grateful to receive financial support from ICIP (International Catalan Institute for Peace) for this workshop. We are asking participants to make a donation to help cover the costs for food, drinks and coffee. If you have questions about the workshop, please contact Micha.


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