Tony Ward from Ireland is an old friend of us. He is a blind accountant who collaborates with the Wheel Ireland and became a facilitator for Dialogue in the Dark workshops in 2009.
Ten years of working together bought plentiful opportunities. Tony, supported by the Wheel Ireland, Social Innovation Fund Ireland and Ardmore Studios, organized a DiD
workshops day in Dublin with the aim of strengthening the DiD brand in Ireland.
Tony: "Ten years ago, ahead of a big event for Allianz, DSE reached out to various NGOs invarious countries and I found out about it through an Irish organization. It was a real whirlwind of an introduction - ahead of the Allianz event in Munich that involved the training of 250 staff. DSE had to find several new trainers and facilitators and I first went to Istanbul to facilitate and lead an YPO training workshop, then we all flew directly to Munich to work on the Allianz workshops, all of which were really informative and the that marked the beginning of my engagement with DSE."
DiD was presented in Ireland for the first time in June 2009. The invitation came from Kanchi and its founder Caroline Casey. Dark workshops were conducted in order to
encourage job inclusion of people with disability. However, it was a one single event and DiD took 10 years to be back to Ireland thanks to Tony and his team tenacity.
Toni: “Over the years as I have facilitated various DiD workshops I felt Ireland would be a good location. We have lots of multinational corporates, there is good awareness of topics like staff development and diversity and inclusion but it is only now with some connections and the possibility of targeted marketing that it has made sense to start DiD Ireland again”.
The goal of Tony is to establish a DiD workshop center in Dublin. He has strong supporters in Ireland, besides the mentioned organizations: Mrs. Martina von Richter is
very close to DSE since many years and now through the Social Innovation Fund Ireland willing to promote the project; and Mr. Osmund Kilkenny, who offered to use a space at Ardmo studio.
Tony: “The DiD workshops day was fantastic and went down really well, we had two workshops with 51 people. The event was hosted at Ardmore Studios. The first workshop was populated by Social Innovation Fund Ireland so they loved it as it was great learning for their donors, staff, directors and beneficiary projects. The second workshop was a more mixed group of some of my colleagues at the Wheel and connections and some from Osmund’s contacts. There was a definite sense that people liked the whole idea and are enthusiastic to support it in future.”
Also workshops’ participants loved the experience in the dark. Brendan says, "The workshop took place in a surprisingly calm and unusual environment of complete and utter darkness and drew out a sense of listening without judgement and a focus on tasks that was without distraction. It made me realize how much we over-rely on our sight and how unfocused we can be as a result. It would be a great resource for team building and for helping to build a sense of empathy among work or community colleagues."
Carol’s experience seems to be incredible too!: ”I had the privilege of participating in a unique learning experience last week with Dialogue in the Dark. Over two hours, working with an eclectic and diverse group of people - most of whom I only nodded to in the ante room before we set off. Over two hours in total darkness, the kind of darkness where the phrase see your hand in front of your face suddenly has real meaning, and where you have the same view with your eyes open as closed. It is a very levelling experience. From the mundane tasks of trying to find a seat, introduce yourselves around a table and have a discussion to more complex co-operation - the total darkness transformed it all. The experience was surprisingly calming (after some initial apprehension and disorientation). The learning was immense and is on-going as it settles and I continue to reflect. Three things I came away with immediately were: Slow down and listen. Be patient and assume nothing. Deal with what's happening right here, right now. These all feel like lessons that were enforced by the darkness and that I could do with replicating elsewhere. As a learning opportunity, I can't recommend this highly enough - whether for a team who want to renew and enhance their communication and problem solving skills or for senior leaders who want to revisit their leadership strengths and styles in a context that cuts to the chase. Whatever the objective, this is an experience that continues to resonate long after the lights have come back on."
Wow! Impressive testimonials! Encouraging enough for us and for Tony and his supporters to push the DiD initiative in Ireland. Thanks Tony for being a constant promoter of DiD in the world and in your homeland!