LA vs Belfast: How do you move forward in a divided city? (Tuesday 12 September) #imaginebelfast

poster for Imagine Belfast event about Los Angeles vs Belfast: How Do you move forward in a divided city? Imagine! Belfast Festival is hosting a free transatlantic hybrid event from 8pm on Tuesday (12 September) asking what if anything can Belfast and Los Angeles learn from each other, and from the world, about how to find reconciliation and achieve cooperative governance?

You can book a free spot in the room where it’s happening in Belfast or register to attend virtually.

Los Angeles hasn’t burned since the 1992 riots. The ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland largely ended in 1998. Ever since, the political leaders of Belfast and Los Angeles – two cities notorious worldwide for urban violence – have promised the end of bitter divisions within their cities.

In 2013, the Northern Ireland government pledged that by 2023 they would have dismantled all of Belfast’s “peace walls” – gates and fences and barriers separating Protestant and Catholic communities. But the walls still stand, most schools and social housing are still segregated, and Northern Ireland can’t even form a regional government.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, residents tell pollsters that race relations are deteriorating. And city government seems paralysed in the aftermath of a historic scandal – a secret tape of public and labor officials making offensive and racist statements about virtually every ethnic group in LA.

What explains the persistence of racial and religious conflicts in these cities, despite decades of effort to end them? What strategies have worked in LA and Belfast to reduce divisions … and what strategies have backfired? And what if anything can Belfast and LA learn from each other, and from the world, about how to find reconciliation and achieve cooperative governance?

A hybrid (online but with limited attendance in person) event, in two cities. Introductions by Bill Deverell, Institute on California and the West, and Peter O’Neill, Director, Imagine! Belfast. Moderated by Joe Matthews, columnist and founder Democracy. Community.

Los Angeles speakers: Joumana Silyan-Saba, Director of Policy and Enforcement for the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department (LA Civil Rights); Jody Agius Vallejo, Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California (USC), and Associate Director of USC Equity Research Institute & Chair-Elect of the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association.

Belfast speakers:Professor Duncan Morrow, Director of community engagement, Ulster University; Stephen Wilson, artist and photographer, Peace Line Stories.

Tuesday 12 September, 8-9.30pm (UK time) – book a free ticket to join in at Accidental Theatre, Belfast, or register to attend virtually.

And on from 2pm on Friday 15 September, Imagine! Belfast is hosting an event Celebrating Democracy as part of UN International Day of Democracy.


Discover more from Slugger O'Toole

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

We are reader supported. Donate to keep Slugger lit!

For over 20 years, Slugger has been an independent place for debate and new ideas. We have published over 40,000 posts and over one and a half million comments on the site. Each month we have over 70,000 readers. All this we have accomplished with only volunteers we have never had any paid staff.

Slugger does not receive any funding, and we respect our readers, so we will never run intrusive ads or sponsored posts. Instead, we are reader-supported. Help us keep Slugger independent by becoming a friend of Slugger. While we run a tight ship and no one gets paid to write, we need money to help us cover our costs.

If you like what we do, we are asking you to consider giving a monthly donation of any amount, or you can give a one-off donation. Any amount is appreciated.