The SocialWorkHUB is a great supporter of dialogue and communication between people. As an organization that devotes its time and resources to the exchange of information and between social workers, organizations and activists, we believe in conducting conversations about controversial ideas. That’s exactly why the SocialWorkHUB is now the official partner and promoter of the “Peace Sofas”.
Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia (PDCS)
The Peace Sofas project is an initiative of the Slovak non-profit organization PDCS. It’s an original and creative way to engage strangers in conversation. Sofas are comfortable and make us feel at home, and that’s exactly the kind of feeling we want when discussing a controversial and polarizing topic. The Sofas were touring throughout Europe and Vienna is its last station before they’ll be sold at an auction.
Extremism has increased rapidly over last few years. Social media and fake news have polarized our communities. People don’t listen to each other anymore,
explained Lukáš Zorád, Program Coordinator at PDCS.
“The sofa is a great place to create a dialogue between people with contradictory opinions. It’s a perfect symbol. Sitting on a sofa makes us feel like we’re sitting in the safety of our homes, rather than on a debate stage,” says Dr. Christian Strasser, MBA, director of MuseumsQuartier Wien.
The Peace Sofas
Each sofa consists of two separate sofas joined together, to illustrate the different opinions of the participants. At first, each person has to seat on one side and present their own opinion in a mature and polite manner. While it’s often difficult to remain contained and logical, it’s essential in these kind of conversations.
The outcome isn’t to agree but to share and see the way the other thinks. For that reason, after the first part of the conversation, the participants are asked to switch sides and now defend the position of their opposer.
As the French Writer Joseph Joubert once said: “The goal of argument or of discussion should not be victory, but progress.”
Deep into communication
Here at the SocialWorkHUB we believe that progress is only possible through communication and that communication is only possible through the right platform that enables it on a larger scale. Scholars relate the word communication to the word community and that’s what we are creating. For that reason, we decided to take it upon ourselves to promote the initiative and increase the awareness to the importance of dialogue. We encourage the participants to talk about triggering topics such as homelessness, refugees, abortion or feminism but we also give the freedom to let them express themselves in other difficult topics.
Join the project
Currently, the SocialWorkHUB has partnered with the Brunnenpassage at the Brunnenmarkt in Vienna, and you can already go there with your friends to test the sofa and find out your friends’ controversial opinions. Soon you will be able to find the sofa in other central locations such as the Rathaus or Wien Mitte.
Furthermore, an event about dialogue and peacefulness will be produced and take place in our office at the Franz-Josephs-Bahnhof, with the participation of politicians, media representatives and activists who will try out the sofa and engage in fruitful and meaningful conversations. We hope that through this event we can promote dialogue on all levels, between strangers, activists as well as politicians. We invite you to join us!