August 2014, Issue 22

Dear Friend,

As once again I write to update you on recent developments at the Dialogue Society, my thoughts are inevitably with those in the Middle East and beyond suffering the appalling costs of conflict and violence. We hope and pray for peace.

It has been an interesting few months here at Dialogue Society Head Office and at our regional branches across the country. A range of community events, aiming to help build community connections and to encourage active citizenship, have taken place in various locations. In addition to various series of Connecting Communities Circles and Community Breakfasts, the Northampton Branch hosted its annual Community Engagement Dinner, the Leeds team created some great intercultural exchange around the tradition of the Noah’s pudding, and Southampton and Leicester held hustings events for the European Elections. The Hull Branch has completed its first Success School for local young people in partnership with Wyke College and looks forward to its second series next academic year.

The end of June brought an exciting event on the academic side of our work. We held a two-day workshop with authors of a second, edited volume of Dialogue Theories, which will introduce a further fifteen fascinating dialogue thinkers to a broad audience. The thoroughly dialogical workshop included productive discussions of the purpose and future of the study of dialogue, which we believe has a part to play in building momentum for dialogue at every level of society. Dialogue Theories 2 is likely to be published by the end of the year, by which time the third issue of the Journal of Dialogue Studies will also be out.

In the autumn we look forward to further community events, a new series of interview-based Straight Talks with leading voices on key social issues, and to the development of new projects, as well as fundraising dinners to help ensure that these projects can come to fruition.

Another, albeit sad, development for us at the Dialogue Society is the departure of Frances Sleap, one of our project coordinators and research fellows who has been with us for over 4 years. Frances has not only led numerous projects (most recently for example, the Success School, the Dialogue School, the Dialogue Theories workshop, the book group and others) but has also been an extremely hard-working and important team member of a range of other Dialogue Society flagship projects. What is our loss is the gain of the educational world in which she aims to pursue a new career. Frances will continue her role as “assistant editor” of the Journal of Dialogue Studies and her support for our work from afar. We wish her every success in this new path she takes.

On behalf of the Dialogue Society I wish you a good summer and hope that you will be able to join us at one or other of our events and projects in the autumn.



Warmest Regards
Ozcan Keles
Executive Director
Dialogue Society

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EVENTS - LONDON

Ramadan Fast Breaking Dinner with Deputy Mayor of Redbridge, Councillor Mrs Linda Huggett

23/07/2014 - Mr Mehmet Meric and Mrs Kamile Meric, Redbridge residents of over 40 years, hosted the Deputy Mayor of Redbridge, Councillor Mrs Linda Huggett and her consort Mr Brian Huggett for a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner on Wednesday 23rd July at their house in Ilford. The guests experienced their first Ramadan fast-breaking, beginning with the traditional dates once the sun had set and enjoying a meal of traditional Turkish dishes. Councillor Huggett thanked the host family for inviting them and the Dialogue Society for organising this evening, saying, ‘We have Muslim friends but this is our first Ramadan Fast Breaking Dinner with a Muslim family at their own house. When we got the invitation, we were really excited to attend despite the late dusk time. This is an indefinable feeling and great opportunity to understand each other's culture, beliefs and religion. I will definitely try fasting to experience the fast-breaking and also for my health.’

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Academic Workshop: Dialogue Theories, Volume II



26/06/2014 - 27/06/2014 - In June, a range of academics and practitioners with interests in dialogue converged on the Dialogue Society’s Head Office to present and discuss chapters for Dialogue Theories 2, an edited companion volume to the original Dialogue Theories published by the Dialogue Society last year. Select guests engaged in the study and practice of dialogue joined the authors for highly productive discussions of the chapters and the parallels and contrasts between the diverse dialogue thinkers presented in them. These thinkers range from German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer to Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, from scholar of religions Diana Eck to ‘Sustained Dialogue’ pioneer Harold Saunders. The workshop included keynotes on the study of dialogue from editor Paul Weller of Derby University and from Fern Elsdon-Baker of Coventry University and there was wide-ranging and productive discussion of the nature and advancement of this study. The truly dialogical gathering concluded in style with tea, cake and music provided by various talented participants.

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Dialogue Society Book Group

23/06/2014 - The Dialogue Society’s book group has gone from strength to strength this year. The group reads novels which explore particular cultural and intercultural experiences. In March the group discussed Gish Jen’s World and Town, which follows the experiences of Hattie Kong and asks deep, absorbing questions about religion, love, home and meaning. May’s meeting explored Timothy Mo’s Sour Sweet which explores the clans and conflicts of Soho’s Chinatown. In June the group discussed Embassytown by China Mieville, a sci-fi novel which explores the power of language and communication. Newcomers are very welcome at our next meeting in September for a discussion of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.

Connecting Communities Circle: the Middle Eastern Arab Community

05/06/2014 - This sixth Connecting Communities Circle brought members of Middle Eastern Arab communities to the Dialogue Society for an informal discussion of the composition, history and experiences of these communities in the UK and particularly in London. These events are intended to improve the Dialogue Society’s connections with and understanding of different ethnic groups and to lay the foundations for the creation of new connections between different communities. This particular event’s frank and wide-ranging discussions explored issues of education, intergenerational relationships and the challenges of preserving cultural roots and connectedness within a given ethnic community.

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Forthcoming

  • 03/09/2014 | The Dialogue Society Book Group Meeting 9: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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    EVENTS - BIRMINGHAM

    Community Engagement Breakfast with PCC Bob Jones and Deputy PCC Yvonne Mosquito



    11/06/2014 - As part of its series of Community Engagement Breakfasts with local stakeholders, the Dialogue Society Birmingham Branch enjoyed hosting West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Bob Jones CBE and Deputy PCC Yvonne Mosquito for a conversation with a diverse group of local residents. Over breakfast Mr Jones and Ms Mosquito spoke about local policing and their own roles and responded thoughtfully to a range of questions from guests. It was with very great sadness that Dialogue Society staff and volunteers heard only weeks later that Mr Jones had passed away; he will surely be sadly missed by all those touched by his service.

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    Examining the Extremes, Panel Discussion 4 - What Can/Should Different Sectors of Society Do to Tackle Extreme Fringes?

    28/05/2014 - In May the Dialogue Society Birmingham Branch held the fourth and final installment of its series of discussions on extremism in the UK. The series ended on a practical note, exploring the role of different sectors of society in tackling dangerous extremism. The speakers were Waqar Ahmed, Prevent Manager for Birmingham City Council, Dr Arshad Isakjee of the University of Birmingham and Ismail Mesut Sezgin of the Centre for Hizmet Studies. Once each had offered his own particular perspective the topic was further explored through Q and A and discussion amongst speakers and guests.

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    Examining the Extremes Panel Discussion 2 – What Do We Know About the Causes of Violent Extremism Claiming an Islamic Motivation in the UK?



    26/03/2014 - In March the Dialogue Society Birmingham Branch was proud to host the second of a series of four panel discussions entitled ‘Examining the extremes: exploring the causes of and connections between violent “religious” extremism and extreme right wing movements’. This second panel consisted of three well-informed speakers: Dr Ian G Williams (the Markfield Institute of Higher Education), Prof Shamit Saggar (Director of the Understanding Society Policy Unit) and Co-Director of The Association of British Muslims Paul Salahuddin Armstrong. The speakers explored the cultural, political, ideological, social and economic factors that can contribute to people adopting violent extremism. Their presentations were followed by lively discussion.

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    Other Events

  • 18/06/2014 | Community Engagement Breakfast with Tom Storrow, Chairman of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust
  • 30/04/2014 | Examining the Extremes, Panel Discussion 3 - What Do We Know About the Causes of Right Wing Extremism in the UK?
  • Forthcoming

  • 20/11/2014 – 21/11/2014 | Academic Workshop: Sense of Belonging in a Diverse Britain
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    EVENTS - BRIGHTON

    Community Engagement Breakfast with Caroline Lucas MP



    09/05/2014 - This spring the Dialogue Society’s new Brighton Branch has been building connections between the organisation, stakeholders and local people through a series of Community Engagement Breakfasts. This year’s series concluded with a well-attended event with local MP Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s former leader and first MP. It was an excellent opportunity for diverse local students, business people and other residents to ask Ms Lucas questions about national and local political issues in a relaxed environment over an excellent breakfast prepared by local volunteers.

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    Other Events

  • 26/03/2014 | Community Engagement Breakfast with PCC Katy Bourne
  • 04/03/2014 | Community Engagement Breakfast with Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp
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    EVENTS - BRISTOL

    The Role of the Crown Prosecution Service

    30/04/2014 - The Dialogue Society Bristol Branch was pleased to host Chief Crown Prosecutor (CPS) Barry Hughes for an informative and engaging exploration of the role of the Crown Prosecution Service. As well as explaining what the CPS does and outlining contemporary challenges faced by the criminal justice system, Mr Hughes was able to offer a fascinating expert perspective on hate crime in the UK, stressing the importance of partnership working and effective community relationships in tackling such crime. Audience members from the local area posed a range of questions and the event ended with further informal discussion over refreshments.

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    EVENTS - HULL

    Hull Success School – Week 4: with Actor Liam Garrigan



    16/06/2014 - The first Dialogue Society Hull Success School ended in style with a great session with actor Liam Garrigan, a former Hull resident and student of our hosts at Wyke College. In an initial interview Liam spoke of how his early enjoyment of drama gradually progressed into serious professional commitment and of the hard work required to fulfil one’s potential in an artistic field. He urged students to aim high and work at fulfilling their ambitions, noting all the talented people who had come from their sometimes maligned city and hoping that Wyke students would be among the next generation of great Hull achievement. Students asked a range of questions about Liam’s experiences. Our best attended Success School to date, the event brought the series to a close on a truly inspirational note.

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    Connecting Communities Circle: the Mexican Community

    16/06/2014 - This spring the Dialogue Society’s Hull Branch commenced a series of Connecting Communities Circles, replicating the ongoing project in London intended to build understanding of and connections between different ethnic groups in the local area. The first Hull Circle was with a small group of guests from Hull’s Mexican community, who discussed the community’s history and make-up as well as trends in educational attainment and family relationships. It was a most interesting discussion and a promising start to the series of events.

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    Other Events

  • 28/05/2014 | Health and Environment Community Programme in Association with BAMEEN
  • 09/04/2014 | Hull Success School – Week 3: with Chief Constable Justine Curran
  • 02/04/2014 | Hull Success School – Week 2: with performance coach Wendy Gore
  • 18/03/2014 | Community Engagement Lunch in Hull
  • 13/03/2014 | Connecting Communities Circle: The Hungarian Community
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    EVENTS - LEICESTER

    East Midlands 2014 European Elections Hustings Event



    16/06/2014 - The Dialogue Society’s Leicester Branch held a hustings event for the European Elections, offering East Midlands candidates an additional platform to explain their values and priorities. The underlying aim of the evening was to encourage democratic engagement and proactive citizenship. The event was well-attended and members of the diverse audience put a range of questions to candidates from three political parties.

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    Other Events

  • 18/04/2014 | Conference on the Remembrance of the Genocide which Occurred in Srebrenica
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    EVENTS - LEEDS

    Noah’s Pudding: Food, Cultural Exchange and Cosmopolitanism



    08/05/2014 - In May, the Dialogue Society Leeds Branch arranged a day of cultural exchange around the delicious Eastern Anatolian tradition of Noah’s Pudding, itself a transcultural, interfaith food. Among Armenians it is called Anoushabour (literally translated as sweet soup) and is eaten symbolically at midnight on New Year’s Day in a ritual to sweeten the forthcoming year, while Turkish Muslims traditionally eat it at the Muslim festival of Ashura. Dialogue Society volunteers and friends shared the tradition with passers-by at the Parkinson Steps and the Millennium Square in Leeds. Later in the day a panel discussion explored Muslim and Christian coexistence in the Ottoman Empire and themes of cosmopolitanism and conviviality as well as the Noah’s Pudding tradition and the use it has been put to in Dialogue Society community-building projects. The day created a great deal of enjoyable and fascinating cultural exchange and dialogue.

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    EVENTS - NORTHAMPTON

    Northampton Community Engagement Dinner



    02/03/2014 - In March, the Dialogue Society Northampton Branch arranged its annual Community Engagement Dinner. The annual dinners are intended to help foster dialogue and understanding between diverse people in Northampton and the surrounding area. They bring together community leaders from diverse backgrounds, policy makers and the wider public to get to know one another over a good meal and to reflect together on important social issues. The theme for this 8th Annual Dinner was ‘Exploring Sense of Belonging in Britain’. The theme was discussed around small dinner tables once initial food for thought had been provided by three insightful speakers: Dr Chris Gifford of the University of Huddersfield, Tom Fisher of Coventry University and Sadik Cinar of the Dialogue Society.

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    Other Events

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    EVENTS - SOUTHAMPTON

    South East 2014 European Elections Hustings



    14/05/2014 - The Dialogue Society’s Southampton Branch, like the Leicester Branch, decided to try to contribute to local democratic engagement by arranging a hustings event and offering local people an extra opportunity to put their questions to candidates seeking to represent the region as MEPs. No fewer than five candidates accepted the invitation to put their case for election and respond to constituents’ thoughts and concerns.

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    In this issue


    FORTHCOMING

    LONDON

    Other news

    Past & Forthcoming Events

    Visit our Events page to see the number and range of work carried out by the Dialogue Society. Users can view the events in categorical or chronological order.

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    Internship at the Dialogue Society

    The Dialogue Society is currently offering volunteering placement opportunities for candidates from all backgrounds and interests. We provide a unique, dynamic and stimulating work experience where volunteers are encouraged to plan, build and deliver their own projects whilst contributing to other ongoing projects and tasks.

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    Support the Dialogue Society

    Regardless of your means and time, there are a number of ways you can support the Dialogue Society. Click below for some practical suggestions.

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    Feedback

    The Dialogue Society would appreciate any feedback or ideas you can provide on its work. Please visit the website to send us any comments you would like to make.


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