Plenty of events taking place in Belfast this March at the Imagine Festival of Ideas and Politics 2018, including talks and workshops by our co-founder Michel Bauwens and our close associate John Restakis. The following was written by Mairead McCormack and is cross-posted from

Mairead McCormack: .Join us at the Imagine Festival of Ideas and Politics 2018 in Belfast for a series of conversational gatherings hosted and facilitated by Voluntary Arts Ireland in partnership with the International Futures ForumPerspectivity and others.

Together we are exploring the prospects for cultural transformation related to economics, politics, and ways of living and making a living.

‘We live in an era when the consequences and effects of dominant economic, social and political paradigms are pressing upon people, damaging democracy and fomenting feelings of frustration, helplessness and despair. It is now when creating together, wisely and hopefully, matters most.’

Humanising the Economy – The role of cooperatives in making shift happen

Tuesday 13th March
8.30 to 10.30am (with buffet breakfast)
The Studio, Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

The role of cooperatives in making shift happen with John Restakis, Executive Director of Vancouver based Community Evolution Foundation and author of Humanizing the Economy. In this session, John will speak about the ways in which cooperatives are challenging the mainstream economy and are pointing towards a political economy that’s good for people and planet.  John will also examine challenges being faced by the cooperative movement in our turbulent times.  There will be opportunity for participants to engage in conversation about the issues and insights in John’s presentation.

Registration (Free)

Cultural Commoning – What it is and why it matters

Tuesday 13th March
1.30pm to 4pm (with light lunch)
Performance Room, Linen Hall Library, Belfast

Cultural commoning is of its time. In a world where it is becoming clear that the everyday creative things we do have a value to us, to the social fabric and wellbeing of our communities and to the health of our democracies it offers an alternative approach to sustaining our creative lives.

With Michel Bauwens, co-founder of the Peer-to-Peer Foundation – a cross-national, not-for-profit organization, Nat O’Connor, Lecturer in Public Policy & Administration at Ulster University, Peter Doran, School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast and Karin Eyben from of Garvagh People’s Forest. This seminar will focus on cultural commons/commoning – what it means and why it is important for personal and civic living – drawing from contributions made by cultural thinkers and doers from various parts of the world. There will be opportunity to meet and talk with some of these ‘citizen commoners’ as part of an open and informal civic conversation.

Hosted by Denis Stewart and Kevin Murphy of Voluntary Arts Ireland

Registration (Free)

Being SMart about Freelancing – The changing nature of ‘work’

Tuesday 13th March
The Studio, Crescent Arts Centre

A shift is happening in our ways of thinking about and doing ‘work’. Increasingly people, especially young adults, are free-lancing, becoming self-employed, to ‘make a living’ – sometimes through choice, often by dint of circumstances. In the midst of their seeking and making good with opportunities, these increasingly numerous ‘working people’ face considerable challenges, for example, in maintaining sufficient monetarily valued work, in making provision for times of illness and unfitness for work, and in ‘laying up’ financial resource against their later, post-professional years.
This workshop will provide opportunity for participants to think together about ‘work’ in the round, and about the changing nature of remunerated work in particular. Colleagues from the Belgium-based SMart organisation will be playing leading roles in informing and inspiring the conversation.

The session will be hosted by Voluntary Arts Ireland and facilitated by Michael Donnelly of Perspectivity.

Registration (Free)

Commoning Our Democracy – A Civic Conversation on democratic revival

Wednesday 14th March
11am to 1pm
The Studio, Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

The nation-state and its democracy is in crisis and hardly able to contain the forces of disruption that are transnational in scale. But even before the re-emergence of an era of crises, democratic citizens hardly experienced autonomy and co-governance in the important spheres of production and education.

In recent years however, we have seen a re-emergence and fast growth of the commons, particularly in the fields of shared knowledge, but also in the mutualization of provisioning systems through urban commons. Can the new forms of co-governance and mutualized property that are characteristic of commoning also have an effect on the renewal of our democratic institutions?

Based on his experiences in projects for the government in Ecuador and the crafting of a Commons Transition Plan for the city of Ghent, Michel Bauwens will offer answers to this question. And all those participating in the seminar will be invited to engage in co-creative, civic conversation about the prospects for ‘commoning our democracy’ as part of the ecological and social transformations that are needed for humanity to survive.

Registration (Free)

This event is part of Democracy Day organised by the Building Change Trust. To find out more about Democracy Day and register for other events please click here.

Universal Basic Income – What currency could it have?

Friday 16th March
1pm to 3pm
The Studio, Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

Interest in the idea of an unconditional ‘basic income’ for everyone has been growing in recent years, with considerable deliberation and some experimentation. This session will offer opportunity to engage in civic conversation about universal basic income – what it means, in principle and practice, and its potential benefits and challenges. During the session, Anne Ryan, from Basic Income Ireland, and Nat O’Connor, from Ulster University, will share their perspectives on basic income to help inform and inspire the conversation.

The seminar will be co-hosted by the International Futures Forum and Slugger O’Toole, and facilitated by Karin Eyben, of Garvagh People’s Forest, and Denis Stewart, from the IFF.

Registration (Free)

Download The Common Interchange of Ordinary Intelligence poster

Photo by Eskling

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