Changing the world: real conversation is the key

By Simon Barrow
August 5, 2013

As the huge media coverage of internet abuse has made clear (not least the appalling targeting of women on Twitter and other social media platforms), when public conversation is debased, we all suffer - though those at the sharp end suffer most.

There is a lot of toxicity on the web and in public life these days. But that is only one side of the story. In all kinds of places, people are also crossing bridges of understanding, listening to one another, challenging received ideas with respect, and developing hopeful perspectives on making a better world together.

That is one of the aims of the 2013 Just Festival in Edinburgh (and online), which is being sponsored by Ekklesia again this year.

The full Conversation programme can be viewed here. Just click each picture icon for full details and the link to online booking.

Likewise for the festival's inspiring range of Talks and perspective-altering Films.

Discussion and debate this year is grouped around five broad and inclusive 'strands'.

These are:
* changing world,
* ethics over profit,
* behind closed doors,
* faith today and
Scottish independence referendum.

There's undoubtedly a real buzz about the creative dialogue taking place at Just Festival this year. Indeed, Edinburgh Spotlight magazine has an interesting comment in its preview and comment on the launch.

They declared: "It would be unfair to suggest that Edinburgh’s other festivals shy away from moral, political and social issues. However, by curating a series of events and performances which both celebrate and highlight the importance of the world’s cultural and ethical diversity, the Just Festival could perhaps be described as the festival season’s compassionate heart."

The Just Festival, also known simply as Just, runs from 2-26 August 2013. It is based at St John's Church (Princes Street and Lothian Road) and some 27 other venues, and combines artistic and performance style events with conversations, talks, films exhibits and other ways of exploring how to live together creatively in a mixed-belief society.

* For more information on Just Festival, visit and

* Ekklesia is a sponsor of Just Festival. Our news, reporting and comment is aggregated at:


© Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia and a media adviser for the 2013 Just Festival.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.