Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spiritual Capital Conference day

Finally, the day arrives - after months of delay and postponement, the launch of the Spiritual Capital research project report and database, with an afternoon conference at the Future Inn Hotel opposite County Hall, where the event would have taken place if, it were not for an employees strike.

Over seventy people turned up of the ninety who booked in. A broad cross-section of members of the city's faith communities, and a handful of political leaders and civil servants. There would have been more of the latter if it hadn't been for the strike.

The Spiritual Capital-Cardiff website relays all that's necessary to know about the day. I was much relieved that it had happened at last, discharging fully all the commitments we'd made to the Community Development Foundation who funded the project, albeit four months late.

Despite the strike we got double the number of attendees we thought we would get at the outset which only goes to show how much interest was generated by the survey and follow-up. Where we go from here remains to be seen. The report proposes the appointment of a Council Officer for religious communities to enable closer partnership and participation.

Gwilym, whose outfit
'Pollenshops' organised the conference has expertise and interest in relating to 'hard to reach' groups, in current consultative jargon. I think that verifying the database was something of nightmare for him, as he discovered how difficult it can be to contact many religious groups for whom you have advertised public contact details. This is precisely why a fieldworker working on creating this kind of useable network would be an asset in community relationships across the Borough.

Still, who is going to fund such a post? A lot more work needs to be done to make a reasonable and attractive case for this kind of social investment, and there are plenty around who would deny this has any value at all. If only it were easier to mobilise invistment in such an initiative from faith communities themselves. We can't expect everything to be done 'on the Rates' as my mother would say. I can but dream .... anyway the follow through will be interesting, simply due to the satisfaction this afternoon provided. Well organised, well researched, encouraging and positive for a change - a minumum of moans regardless of the opportunity.

One moan. Where were the press? Conspicuous by their absence. Not surprising really given that their contribution to the process of social communication involving religious was widely criticised by many present. In my view this was a major editorial faux pas on the part of Media Wales. How the bosses can expect the collaboration and trust of citizens who often find they are mis-represented, whose good news stories are passed over for bad news more often than not beggars belief. The reporters all missed a great event, with a good story to tell about people interested in making Cardiff even better than it already is. Miserable lot!

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