вторник, 13 февраля 2018 г.

Fourth dialogue marathon “Narratives and conflict”

The format of dialogue marathons on the Donbass Dialogue platform (DD) includes meetings of the representatives of the international expert group on a closed offline platform. Experts have the opportunity to observe (but not participate) a live dialogue between representatives of the divided community on the most acute, often taboo topics. Before the dialogue speakers introduce topic to the audience in the online mode and share their experience and knowledge on the issue under consideration. After each online dialogue where dialoguers from any part of the world could participate where there is Internet, the expert group studies the issues raised by speakers and prepares its conclusions, which then be part of the final document.

During dialogue marathons, online dialoguers exchange views on the situation and personal stories, and invited experts see them on the screen on a closed offline platform, listen, compare the reality of the dialoguers with their own understanding of the conflict and look for ways to solve the problems discussed. Experts can not intervene and influence on the dialogue process. Thus, the opportunity to hear and appreciate the vision of the participants in the dialogue in a pure, undistorted form is opened for them here and now. This information is important both for experts and for peacebuilding projects that will be developing in the east of Ukraine.

Considering that the narratives become extremely relevant and even trendy topic, the fourth DD marathon was devoted to this very issue in order to work out with the problems that practice of using narrative as a tool and an instrument for working with the conflict provided. Since a live story of the event makes it possible to evoke a vivid sense of the context of this event, the storytelling could be used both to improve an empathic understanding of the audience, and to demonstrate a personal position of the narrator. By telling the stories, the dialoguers establish the connections between the obvious and permanent aspects of their lives and the changes that are taking place, thus becoming intelligible to the listeners and themselves. The narrative allows us find meaning and make sense of our own practices, that is especially valuable in post-conflict life. About this side of the online dialogue, the dialogues mentioned in their responses after the marathon.

This marathon was entered into a series of events that showed the recognition of the practice of online dialogues of DD by professional community at the ukrainian and international levels. Literally on the eve of the marathon, the Donbass Dialogue project was presented on the Geneva Peace Week, an initiative for collective actions in peacebuilding and conflict resolution organized by the United Nations in Geneva (Switzerland). And in a week after the marathon, a project coordinator Daria Kuznetsova flew to represent Ukraine at the annual conference Build Peace 2017 to Colombia.

Technical aspects of the preparation and conduction of the dialogue marathon “Narrative and Conflict”

The online dialogue methodology developed by the Donbass Dialogue Platform team for the project allows to reduce the project's dependence in an offline mode and support in the interaction of the network of dialogue participants continuously. The task of the technique is to support integrate people into a new reality which a vicious conflict has created.

The contradiction between stereotypical behavior and reality breaks the habitual ways of interaction, as a result of which the contacts in communities are destroyed.

The work of restoration of the broken relations is to help people to identify, find, exchange and appropriate new values during interaction with other people, even if they are on the other side of the line of demarcation. The exchange of personal stories is an adequate tool for solving this problem.
The disintegrating interaction appears in a situation where people ignore changes because they perceive world as a system of reversible processes and act in the new situation stereotypically. To overcome stereotypes, return, be integrated into an irreversibly changing world new meanings help which already found by other people.

DD conducts dialogues between residents of mainland Ukraine (government controlled area - GCA) and uncontrolled territories (NGCA), without violating the Laws of Ukraine and endangering the participants. This is possible thanks to crowdsourcing technique and online dialogue technologies. Such dialogue promotes constructive communication between people with different views and positions and located on different sides of the line of demarcation. The technologies used protect the dialoguers from outside pressure.

The Internet environment allows every inhabitant of the planet to access not only almost any information on the network, but also to any member of the network. The advantage of online dialogue is that it helps to overcome technical limitations (time, space, cultural and language differences), is a safe environment, allows to keep a psychological safe distance and control the level of participation, number of meetings and participants in the process. It is also important that this process is very economical, in terms of organizational and financial costs (comparing to the organization of prolonged offline dialogues). However, the online dialogue as a tool for peacebuilding requires preparation and facilitation. Since there is a third party — facilitator who helps and respects the rules and principles of dialogue. Also the quality of communication and video stream, the stability of the received signal, the sufficient size of the monitors to transmit a video image to all participants in the process are important.

Preparation for dialogue also requires special attention. DD is using crowdsourcing for this purpose.
Crowdsourcing as a tool for resolving conflicts helps to solve the problem of finding meaning as well. Each time when a large number of people independently of each other commit actions (personal chose), gestures and share these actions (aggregation) — then there is an actual alternative to the usual way of action with which they came to a new situation. In this case, the result of crowdsourcing is presented for each participant in the form of an algorithm and in a language that is understandable for use to everyone.

Currently, crowdsourcing is mostly hand-held in a facebook group of Donbass Dialog (DD) facebook.com/groups/DonbassDialog using the Google Disk tools that are freely available.
The increase in the number of interested and involved participants requires the permanent inclusion and adequate tools for managing the crowdsourcing process from platform. During the marathon, the DD platform makes it possible to run and consistently provide the following processes:
  • research — expert study of the problem, formulation of the task, creation of scenarios of crowdsourcing processes;
  • involvement of participants — discussion of the problem on thematic platforms with the invitation of active participants to the development of proposals and solutions.