|In the late 1990s, Arthur Muliro at the Society for International Development began organising public interest scenario work in Kenya. He asked Barbara Heinzen to help design and facilitate the process which was led by a Kenyan team from the Institute for Economic Affairs in Nairobi. After a successful process in Kenya, SID organised similar work in Tanzania, Uganda and the East Africa region as a whole. The East African work then led to a public interest scenarios assignment in Houston, Texas. In all these places, the process of building good scenario stories served the additional purpose of creating a safe space for public dialogue.
An important aspect of public dialogue is the need to surface undiscussable emotional issues that affect perceptions and responses to public disputes. How can those be described and addressed? This challenge was particularly acute in Uganda with its legacies of trauma and mutual suspicion, but discussing the undiscussable also shaped the Texas process Texas which was led by the Center for Houston's Future.
All of these were slow processes, lasting 18 months to two years. That allowed the quality of conversation to deepened, and also helped create a network of people who now bring to public life greater personal flexibility and knowledge of the hazards and possibilities their societies are facing.
Similar projects have been proposed in Nepal, the Basque country of Spain, Israel, Somalia and Northern Ireland. Barbara Heinzen has also worked on smaller public assignments in Malaysia and Israel.