What would emerge if a Polish plumber, a Belgian farmer, a German civil servant and a Greek chef shared their experiences, values and visions in relation to Europe, expressed what Europe means in their life, what makes their heart beat, rather than talk about “the EU”? Through emotions and not arguments? Building on creativity, presencing, deliberation and visual tools, ‘European Heartbeats’ will make visual what Europe means to Europeans to then clarify what they really aspire to.
Discussing “Europe” is hard. Citizens feel incompetent, though they live it daily. As with other complex public debates, too often top-down and simplified, politicians need to understand people’s real views not by asking about predefined issues but by revealing afresh what matters deeply to them.
We prove that starting from people's emotions through striking visual tools reveals more genuine and different opinions. We convince citizens to pursue the debate online, policy-makers and deliberation specialists to approach deliberations about complex EU issues differently and journalists to cover
We bring together a diverse group of 30 citizens from around Europe in Brussels for 2 days. Participants tell their stories and emotions about Europe on an interactive “heatmap”: when does it make us feel annoyed, happy, angry...? They share what deeper values living in Europe represent for them and agree on the top 3. They define their vision of a Europe that meets their needs and values in 2030. They express it in video form. We share everything online and through the media before and after.
We are the organisers of the first ever EU-wide deliberative poll. We are inventors of innovative visual formats to engage with citizens. We are frustrated with the limits of current top-down, elitist and intellectual approaches that do not elicit real meaning and engage average people.
We wish to prove Winston Churchill wrong and all officials who believe that “The best argument against democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter”: we trust that the problem with democracy is not people’s individual ability but our inability to tap into our collective intelligence.
The key challenge will be to get the media outreach and the design of the platform right to generate maximum interaction. While we have a lot of experience in this type of matter, we will definitely benefit from ideas and advice. Creative feedback on each step of the design will be also welcome.