Open Chair Democracy Talks

Change can be easier than you might dare to think.

Improving democracy is a daunting task. Emancipation and empowerment demands a well thought and well-articulated struggle, to break the apathy and hopelessness of those without a voice as well as to stand up the vested interests of those in charge. The process of societal change is unavoidably complex and demanding. This realization is at the core of the IYTT endeavour.

Yet some ways of improving democracy can be done with minimal effort and preparation. In the IYTT Open Chair Democracy Talks, we put two chairs facing each other in the street, in the square or in the shopping mall. One of our Youth Fellows take one of the seats and passers-by are invited to take the other. With a handfull of deceptively simple but endlessly thought-provoking questions we probe the hearts and minds of the people – their views on democracy, their perceived opportunities as individual citizens and how they feel that they might be empowered to a greater degree.

Open Chair Democracy Talks can be performed anywhere, anytime, and by anyone. Almost no preparation is needed, basically no costs are involved. This simple setup has the power to make a difference, giving both ourselves and the participants new perspectives. In the words of IYTT Director Urban Strandberg: “We are doing this to show the world how easy it is to provide voice to citizens who feel unheard. Every single individual talking to us will grow a little bit as individuals, and be a little bit empowered as citizens – this simply through experiencing that they have views and that it feels good to pronounce them”.