21 Nov By the Light of the Super-Moon
This time last week I was putting the finishing touches to my talk at the Lunar 21 event in Derby. Lunar 21 is known as ‘Derby’s independent non-political think tank’. Founded by Graham Bennett 4 years ago, inspiration came from the original Lunar Society – a group of 18th Century Midlands business men – who met to share ideas, always on an evening near the full moon, so that they would be more able to find their way home afterwards.
Those original member of the Lunar Society used their enquiring minds and knowledge across different disciplines, to challenge accepted thinking: asking difficult questions and examining a range of issues, from chemistry to geology, and mechanical engineering to physics. In the same way, Lunar 21 aims to be a thinking space for the people of Derby, a place where it’s okay to ask questions that have no obvious answers, especially when these are difficult questions that need answers – the questions that we must ask if we are to shed light on the 21st Century, and our place in it.
The format of the evening is carefully planned to spark ideas, and generate discussion. The topic for this meeting was What is Good Decision-making? and three of us spoke on different aspects. My brief was to cover how we, as individuals, make decisions. I was followed by Iain Standen, CEO of Bletchley Park, who spoke about how we, as a nation, make decisions, and Christine Cawthorne, from social media agency, Crocstar, sharing insights into how social media influences decision-making.
The gathering then adjourned to another room where an ‘in the round’ session, guided by Graham allowed members of the audience to share insights, ideas and thoughts around the topics covered.
It was fascinating to be part of such a group. A far cry from the normal adversarial debating style, there was a real feeling of collaboration and willingness to listen to different points of view. A wide range of thoughts and opinions were shared, both closely linked to, and widely different from the content of the initial talks. It felt like that start of a larger dialogue, which is I think, a key intention of Lunar 21.
Graham shared with me afterwards his desire for this style of ‘debate’ and idea-sharing to be more widely used – particularly among young people, in schools and colleges. In a world where increasingly voices seem to cry ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, this open sharing and listening has an important place. And given that public speaking always ranks highly in surveys as people’s number 1 fear, this is a much less threatening introduction than traditional debating.
Graham and I are planning to develop a programme to bring this style of debate into schools locally and nationally – if you’d like to be involved, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from educational leaders who would be interested in supporting this initiative.
And if you’re wondering ‘How do we, as individuals, make decisions?’ (the subject of my talk) that’s the next blog…watch this space.