Encountering each other’s stories

Photo: Facebook ENGAGING: Open Community Encounters engages with communities on issues relevant to South Africa.

The conversations, on the third Saturday of each month, will take place on 20 February at The Mix in Sophiatown, a space that hosts opportunities for different communities to come together for cultural programmes, training and youth support.

The Open Community Encounters are aimed at providing a space and structure for people from different neighbourhoods and communities to connect and share thoughts, ideas and possibilities about issues that are common to South Africa and South Africans. The dialogue sessions are characterised by open and robust conversation facilitated through a community building process and underpinned by a sense of open-mindedness allowing different voices to be heard and experiences to be shared.

The theme for the upcoming session is about challenging dominant values and deep-seated beliefs in South Africa. These topics emerged from feedback received from participants at the second Open Community Encounters held on 23 January.

Alison Gitelson, Susan Williams and Petro Janse van Vuuren head up the initiative and they were astounded by the response from the first session. “The feedback we received from participants is heartwarming,” said Gitelson.

“Ever since our first encounter, participants were fully engaged with the intent of the session and enjoyed the practical exercises that are aimed at creating the opportunity for participation and connection.”

Williams added, “We are moved by how much people appreciate the opportunity to speak out and be heard by others, without interruption. Open Community Encounters truly provide a platform that allows people to connect with others in a candid and open way.”

Violet Mohotloane, operations manager at The Mix said, “Sophiatown has the opportunity to reflect the best of what South Africa can offer. We want to provide a space of encounter for everyone in which a new story can emerge, creating prosperity that is good for people and the planet. Our mission is a vision of people, place and possibility coming together for the common good.”

Details: www.sophiatown.net

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