Ok Britain, we need to get it together. We've spent the couple of years arguing with each other about what happened on one day in June 2016. There’s a lot of things to sort out: the tariffs on our Camembert or which queue to join at the airport for example. Or, alternatively we can bury our heads in the sand and find something more interesting to talk about like what happened on Hollyoaks - pretty much the hallmarks of any dysfunctional family.
But let’s face it: there's some fundamentals that we need to figure out. Who are we as a nation and what makes us distinct from the rest of the world? What do we have in common as individuals and as citizens? How does that play out in a global world and in our everyday lives?
It is clear that discussions about national identity have become stale, polarised and uninspiring. That's why, over the course of 2018 Common Vision consulted millennials across the UK on what “being British” means. We hosted deliberative events, online focus groups and encouraged engagement via social media. Our participants were from different backgrounds and locations, voted differently in the 2016 EU referendum, and some were born in the UK and some were born elsewhere. But all agreed that a more positive, creative and inclusive approach to this conversation is possible and necessary. Instead of asking for academic interpretations or political commentary about national identity, we've looked at everyday experiences, cultural trends and curated conversations using visual tools and design-led methods.
We've used these insights to design and produce a series of graphic products which represent modern Britishness, some of which are offered as Rewards for this crowdfunder. Our designs will be on display at the Barbican in London in February 2019 and the project will also feature in a Sky Arts programme in the Spring.
We know from the experience so far that discussions about who we are as a country don't have to be dull and inaccessible. But it's important that this is an ongoing conversation, which allows more people to get involved.
That's why we want to use the insights and experiences from our research to pilot a public ‘conversation toolkit’, to encourage more people to engage in positive, proactive discussions about national identity and belonging, using fresh and creative techniques.
The toolkit will include an explainer video, prompt cards with questions and provocative statements, and guidance notes for facilitators with suggested offline and online activities. The kits will be designed so that they can be facilitated by civil society groups, school teachers or university lecturers, or simply friends looking for something to talk about in the pub!
We want the toolkit to help achieve a more deliberative public dialogue about what it means to be British, and encourage a positive public narrative that celebrates both what is common and what is distinctive between people across the UK.
About Common Vision
Common Vision is a think tank working to change the narrative around our shared future. We use the power of positive ideas to detoxify angry, binary debates and unite people around long-term intergenerational goals. We aim to revitalise public diplomacy by championing deliberative dialogue and encouraging established and new leaders to work together to turn collective social challenges into opportunities.