Anxiety about others and oneself, the strengthening of communality, the blaming and the guilt, the astonishment and joy in relation to the digital leap, the acknowledgement of social injustices and the reflecting on an uncertain future. These were all issues at the front of people’s minds on the first in a series of Lockdown Dialogues arranged to take place on a single day in different parts of Finland.
Over 200 people took part in the dialogues, which consisted of diverse participants: parents of young children, teachers, young people, pensioners, association activists, prisoners on parole, immigrants, managers, entrepreneurs, freelancers, cultural workers, researchers, state and municipal workers. Life in Finland during the lockdown was examined from the viewpoints of a variety of individuals and communities; simultaneously revealing a general view of the new state of our society.
What became evident in the dialogues is that – even though each individual is experiencing the lockdown in their own way – almost everyone had similar anxieties and safe havens. On the one hand, the crisis is revealing the significance of the roles of family, home, work and school. On the other hand, participants’ worries extended beyond their immediate surroundings, notably towards the vulnerable in Finnish society and those suffering in other countries. The crisis seems to have brought to the surface both an awareness of privilege and the will to help others less fortunate. For many individuals, however, the kinds of practical channels through which they might help seem difficult to access.
What is apparent is that the crisis brought on by the corona virus has obscured any clear view of the future for individuals and communities. The dialogues reflected upon how lives have been and will be further altered due to the crisis, and, moreover, how Finland and the whole world will also change. A general feeling amongst participants was that we have arrived at a turning point and there is no going back to what was previously considered the norm. Nonetheless, many expressed a hope that something good may also come out of this.
The Lockdown Dialogues
The general concept
The Lockdown Dialogues offer citizens and communities the possibility for constructive dialogues during the strains of the lockdown. The concept is to hold a regular series of discussions that will continue for as long as necessary. These dialogues will help to build an understanding of what it is like to live in a world under these unusual circumstances.
The numerous dialogues will help form a comprehensive overall view of how different communities experience these unprecedented circumstances; what are their challenges and strengths, as well as how public authorities are responding to the continuously changing situation. The synopses of these dialogues can be utilized in different ways by states and municipalities and can also aid the work of operators in civil societies. The Lockdown Dialogues can help maintain peace in societies during these demanding and unsteady times.
- Citizens are offered a safe space to collectively reflect and analyse their experiences of the lockdown.
- The dialogues offer relief to peoples’ worries and anxieties in the midst of the uncertainty brought on by the crisis.
- Potential support for new ideas that citizens come up with for sustaining oneself during the crisis.
- Authorities can gain current and extensive reviews of citizens’ experiences.
All citizens are invited to participate in the dialogues. Particular attention is paid to assure that people from different demographic groups are invited to participate, especially individuals in vulnerable circumstances.
The core agents are the steering groups of the Lockdown Dialogues, the people who arrange the dialogues, the authorities who utilize the reviews, the facilitators, support groups, and members of media. The people who organize the dialogues are assisted by written instructions and are expected to commit to delivering a synopsis of the discussions held. The facilitators’ support group will consist of dialogue professionals. The steering group will ensure that the organizers of the dialogues will reach agents from the public, private, and third sectors.
The dialogues are to be held every second week. The topic of the dialogues is: “Life in a locked down world”.
The discussions will be structured around three questions:
- What are you worried about at present?
- What makes you feel confident at the moment?
- What kind of ideas could we share and develop to ease being in lockdown?
The dialogues will continue for as long as the situation and its effects continue to prevail.
The schedules and organizers of the dialogues will be displayed publicly for citizens to see in good time before the dialogues take place. The dialogues will be carried out according to valid instructions from authorities either online or face to face. Each dialogue will be documented, and a comprehensive synopsis will be sent to the steering group, who will then compile a review every two weeks.
The tasks and the configuration of the steering group
The Lockdown Dialogue entity will be directed by the steering group, which is responsible for coordinating, planning, negotiating and passing on the reviews to the authorities. In Finland, the steering group members are Dialogue Academy, Ministry of Finance and Timeout Foundation.
The frameworks of the dialogues and support materials
Every agent can arrange the dialogues at a suitable time for themselves. The topic of the dialogue can be defined to suit each agency. The organizers will receive support materials which will help the process of inviting participants and provide tips to assist in the facilitation of the dialogues. The facilitators of the dialogues will receive help with how to manage challenging discussions and will be given personal coaching.