Open Chair Democracy Talks Spring Campaign

2 March

This year we ask everyone to get out on the streets and do the Open Chair Democracy Talks. Below is an open invitation from Youth Fellow Michele Castrezzati. A downloadable PDF is available here.


Dear friend,

My name is Michele, I’m 22 and I’m a Youth Fellow of the International Youth Think Tank. In 2021, a few other youth fellows and I launched the format of the Open Chair Democracy Talks (OCDTs). It’s a simple yet revolutionary tool for civic engagement.

In brief, we choose a buzzy public street or square and offer passers-by free conversations about democracy. The conversations revolve around 4 questions:

  1. What are the first 3 words that come to your mind when you think about democracy?
  2. Do you feel free when it comes to choosing your life’s path?
  3. Do you feel like you have any power as a citizen?
  4. What would need to change for you to be more powerful?

We talk to people standing, or sitting on benches, or by bringing our own chairs, or by borrowing chairs from a nearby restaurant, which I have done twice in Athens. By running OCDTs, I’ve had the chance to talk to refugees, students, police officers, taxi drivers, teachers, and many others. They all had fascinating views and stories to tell about their day-to-day struggles. Shortly, I will run OCDTs in India during a field trip, and I honestly can’t wait!

So far, we have conducted Open Chair Democracy Talks in more than 25 cities worldwide and published all the answers we received on our website. You can check them out here:

In 2023, we will set up the biggest-ever Open Chair Democracy Talks campaign. During 4 days, between April 28th and May 1st, people all over the world will take to the streets to talk to strangers about democracy.

On one side, this will help us understand what people in different parts of the planet think about political engagement and the issues they face. On the other, we will leave thousands of people more empowered and conscious of their rights and possibilities.

Do you want to be part of the movement?

The IYTT is here to support you in setting up Open Chair Democracy Talks in your own city. An OCDT session usually lasts between 1 and 2 hours, and you are free to run as many as you like at any time during the campaign weekend. After you have asked the 4 questions mentioned above and reported the answers, we will publish them on our website, to illustrate what people in your area have to say about democracy. After the campaign, you will receive a participation certificate to showcase your work.

Talking to strangers is an awakening experience. It helps you to push your boundaries and tap into the stories they have to tell us. I have two personal tips for you. First, talking to strangers is easier than you think. Every time I have run OCDTs, people queued up to talk to me. Be confident and wait for momentum to build up. Second, I have always found it easier to do it with friends. I recommend you bring a couple of friends along. This way, you’ll be part of something new together and you’ll help each other out.

This is where you sign up for the campaign (1 minute):

This is where you can download the poster to carry with you to the streets:

We’d be thrilled to have you on board. You are welcome to approach us if you have any questions at any time from here until the campaign weekend. You can contact me at, or the IYTT at

Michele Castrezzati

Youth Fellow