Centre for Authentic Dialogue

poster%e2%80%a2  (photo: The Alhambra in Granada, Andalucía, Spain)

New AndaLuz Centre for Authentic Dialogue  

A place for learning and teaching dynamic, progressive and effective methods of  dialogue and consultation for conflict resolution, decision-making, and the healing of trauma. This idea is in its infancy and you are cordially invited to contribute to the development of the Centre

The track record for resolving serious issues through dialogue is disappointing. Expensive summit meetings are often no more than photo opportunities. Sometimes participants leave the table angrier than when they arrived. The art of empathic listening is largely unknown and absent. Poor decisions, ungrounded in authentic dialogue cost billions. Hostile feelings or conflicts continue.

Good communication is fundamental to the solving of problems, the celebration of life and the advancement of civilization. When conflict arises among the departments of an organization, ethnic or cultural groups or among nations, Authentic Dialogue can provide an essential and powerful approach to resolving these challenges.

Some of the key attributes of A.D. or skills enhancing it are: mindfulness, trust, empathy, non-judgement, the art of listening, respect, fair-mindedness, openness of both heart and mind and a dedication to taking words to practical application. This list can deepen as a co-creative, ‘ground-up’ discourse among interested participants evolves.

The concept of a Centre for Authentic Dialogue first took root in Cairo in June 2006, while, after receiving a grant from the University of Toronto, I was doing research on dialogue and decision-making methods used by various Egyptian and international NGOs including the ICA (Institute for Cultural Affairs Egypt), the Aga Khan Foundation and the Al-Shehab Institution. The Canadian Embassy invited two dozen leaders from various sectors of Egyptian society to a brainstorming dinner at the Ambassador’s residence to discuss the proposal to establish a Centre. The response was hopeful and enthusiastic, and an oasis or coastal location in Egypt was considered.

The name New AndaLuz refers to the centuries-long period in southern Spain when Andalucía (El Andalús) was the meeting place for the greatetst scholars, scientists, philosophers, architects and artists from across the Mediterranean and Middle East. Cordoba, Granada and Seville became great centres of learning and teaching and intensive cultural cross-fertilization was accompanied by relative harmony among large Catholic, Moslem and Jewish populations.

If this degree of inter-faith peace and creativity was possible a thousand years ago, when the rest of Europe lay engulfed in the ‘Dark Ages’, imagine what might be possible today with the widespread availability of communication, information, science and technology.

The vision for NACAD has diverse groups (businesses, government departments, religions, NGOs, health practitioners, educators, negotiators, community groups, etc.) learning successful dialogue methods from master facilitators, then returning and implementing the awareness and skills they have gained in their work. In this way, skills will “go forth and multiply”. Some of these methods are: The Hakomi Method for Applied Mindfulness, Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, the Korason Method for Authentic Voice and Dialogue and Traditional Indigenous Teachings. Along with these, NACAD might apply new and better methods for treating trauma and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome) that have been emerging along with developments in neurobiology and psychotherapy.

The Centre’s scope will be international as well as regional. There will be a cross-fertilization of approaches to mediation, problem-solving and deliberative processes. A Norwegian facilitator might train a group of 20 Sudanese social workers while a Sudanese facilitator works with the staff of a Canadian NGO struggling with an impasse. Every culture contains traditional wisdom and skill for solving problems.

Music, the universal language, will have a part to play. The emerging field of social neuroscience demonstrates how music unlocks areas of the brain to promote learning, healing from trauma and other conditions, as well as enhancing communication. The flamenco art-form, a fusion of the various cultures of El Andalus, through its improvisation, passionate expression and intense inter-connectedness of dancer, singer and instrumentalist provides an ideal vehicle to enhance Authentic Dialogue with an Andalusian flavour.

The first steps in NACAD’s development include the cultivation of a virtual community of interest, then the emergence of a board of advisors or think tank to steward the project’s development as it enters a seed period during which funding will be located and the most efficient legal structure chosen (some possible ideas: for profit, not for profit, a wing of each, etc.)

If you are attracted to this concept and would like to be part of its evolution, here are some areas on which you might comment:

  1. Basic mandate     2. Structure     3. Funding

Your participation is greatly appreciated.  Feel free to email me at hughsmiley@sympatico.ca.

Sincerely   – Hugh

Join the dialogue on Facebook and www.NACADialog.com