How We Work: Dialogue – Elders as leaders

In 2013, CAN set out to work with a group of older people who had experience of activism in the community sector to explore how knowledge of their lived experience could contribute to making Ireland a more just and equal place. In doing so, we focused on the role that older people can play in leading by example in areas such as promoting active citizenship, creating positive change in their communities, and inspiring younger people to follow their lead.

This learning initiative was designed and led by a core group of elders with experience of tackling inequalities and of promoting social justice. Through this initiative they set out to inquire more deeply into the ongoing barriers to social justice in Ireland.

Using Dialogue to capture a collective story

Following the success of the learning initiative, it was agreed to develop the idea further, but this time to concentrate on one area the north inner city Dublin. The new inquiry used dialogue as a way to capture reflections on a history of activism. It set out to:

  • Tap into the passion, energy and experience of those involved in the north inner city Dublin over the past decades.
  • Draw out what they had learnt from their experience to inform a new generation of activism into the future.
  • Unleash new energy, build new connections and open up new possibilities.

Mature reflections of activism in the North Inner City was an event that took place over three two-day periods, during which thirty activists reflected on and shared their experiences of activism spanning forty years. As they shared their individual experiences a collective story of effective activism began to emerge. They felt compelled to document this story for posterity, believing it had something very important to offer communities today. Participants were keen to have their story captured in some way, so that it could be passed on as a valuable legacy and contribute to building leadership for active citizenship in today’s Ireland.

Rekindling The Magic

Out of the series of dialogues at the Mature reflections event came the film Rekindling The Magic, which was produced by CAN, with support and contributions from community activists.

The film tells the story of a community’s achievements and successes of effective activism. It captures the passion, energy and experience of those involved in the North Inner City over four decades, and is a worthy and inspiring testament to the hard work and commitment of so many people over that period.

The story begins with the collapse of traditional dock work in Dublin Port that came about with the introduction of containerisation of freight. It shows how the community came together at various times, with some notable success but more often with disappointment at the lack of response from local and central government. At the heart of the film are the voices of two young girls growing up in Dublin now. Their real engagement with the activists of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation is testament to the ongoing strength of community in the face of adversity and challenge.

Here is the film:

See more …

What is Dialogue?
Elders as Leaders
Community Engagement