The Festival of Opinion Culture aims to bring together people and organisations from across Estonia and to give them the opportunity to talk about issues, which are relevant to Estonia, but are usually confined to closed board rooms. The festival team has compiled some good practices guidelines and expects the audience to follow them in order to make the the festival a comfortable platform for exchanging ideas to everyone.
The festival’s content team leader Margo Loor, what are the festival’s good practices guidelines?
The initiators of the festival agreed to seven key principles in the first year and these form the foundation for the festival, or the guidelines of good practices. This section is comparable to the general preamble of the constitution, listing the great values and principles that the organisers follow when making operative decisions.
It’s important to us that the people respect both other participants and their time and are free of prejudice, by reacting to the other person’s thoughts and not the persona. We want the discussion participants to focus on solutions rather than just criticism. And all in all – we just want people to have the conversation, not bullet points. So we strongly advise to avoid using PowerPoint.
Why does the festival need such guidelines?
Because the organising team may change, preliminary verbal agreements may be forgotten. The team may face new unforeseen challenges when organising the next festival. The guidelines are there to help them get back on the right track without having to dismantle the festival and the meaning of life down to the bare atoms. One just needs to glance at the guidelines and remind themselves of the whole DNA of the event.
If I’m coming to the festival and wish to follow these guidelines, then what particularly should I be paying attention to? How should I behave?
The good practices guidelines will be up at the festival site, on the program and on the website. It only takes a minute to read them, but we could spend hours discussing each item separately. There’ll be no need for memorising the points exactly. It’s all common sense really – listening is just as important as talking. A great discussion is born out of mutual respect. The most valued of discussions is a well-argumented exchange of opinions, where parties present logical and factual evidence as proof. These are concepts that reasonable and civilised people follow in good discussions anyway.
One point in the guidelines is still a delicate one in Estonia, as people in the public eye often tend to violate this rule – that we should react to the thoughts presented to us and not attack the person delivering these thoughts. So if a festival participant wishes to follow these guidelines, then let’s leave out all personal remarks and verbal abuse at the festival. This will help us all to create a cultured and solution-seeking atmosphere, where everyone has the right to participate in discussions with their ideas and opinions.