Important conversations about identity and belonging are intrinsic to the Corrymeela Community – one of Northern Ireland's oldest peace and reconciliation organisations.
But the global pandemic posed a distinct challenge – how do you continue the conversation during lockdown?
Which is why Corrymeela (who are Core Funded by the Community Relations Council) developed a new podcast series, which attracted notable guests such as musician The Edge, President Dr Mary McAleese, Reverend Dr Johnston McMaster, and more.
“We looked for guests who could reflect on Britishness and Irishness through the lenses of politics, history, art and theology,” said Emily Rawling, Producer for the Corrymeela podcast. “The intention is not that the podcast should present itself as the final word, but that it should begin and contribute to ongoing discussions about who we are and how we can belong with one another in a way that allows all of us to flourish.”
Reflecting on a diverse background
It’s this dedication to open conversation that led Corrymeela to attracting guests with high public profiles. The podcast currently has 13,500 subscribers, which increased for certain guests, such as when they interviewed musician The Edge – it jumped to 17,000!
“The Edge has been supportive of Corrymeela’s work for quite some time, and we were able to draw on a previous connection that we had with him as a result of that,” Emily Explained. “He’s not only a world-renowned musician, but takes an active interest in a variety of different social issues. Reflecting on his own diverse background, he had a unique and fascinating perspective to bring to questions of British and Irish identities.”
Setting up the initial 12-episode run of podcasts required setting clear goals.
“As much as the podcast is born out of the time and the circumstances we’re in, we also hope that it is a resource that people will continue to use in the future – as a teaching tool, research aid, or starting point for group discussions,” Emily said. “So it’s satisfying to think that we have created something which is enriching now and could be enriching later, too.”
This series has been shaped by the significant year that we’re in
While Northern Ireland is still in the midst of a global pandemic, it remains vital to give voices to groups and people in these difficult times.
“Covid is just one of a number of phenomena that will continue to shape our world in the months and years to come,” Emily said. “We think it’s hugely important to continue a thoughtful and honest consideration of some of the others. It’s easy to forget in the midst of the pandemic that ‘normal’ life is still happening, and that the crucial work of organisations like Corrymeela is still needed and still ongoing.”
Producing a podcast requires an investment of resources, and the Community Relations Council (CRC) supported Corymeela through its Core Funding Scheme.
“A One hour-long episode of this kind of quality probably takes about 40 hours of worktime,” Emily said. “Given that it was going to take so much time, we wanted to be sure to make episodes that weren’t just for once-off listening, but that could be a resource while we’re separated during Covid.
“Funding from the CRC, as well as the US-based Henry Luce Foundation, the Dublin Government’s Fund for Reconciliation and the monthly and annual supporters of Corrymeela has enabled us to take advantage of professional experience and expertise to make the podcast sound as good as it does.”
Top 5 tips
Emily Rawling, producer of the Corrymeela podcast, has these top tips to help you with your own podcast:
- Make a clear plan – what’s your podcast about?
- Research the guest you’re going to interview.
- Come with respect both for the guest and the listener.
- Be consistent – in format, in releasing, in content.
- Collaborate with others, and cut what needs to be cut. It’s not personal, and it’ll make the podcast more listenable.
Find out more about the Corrymeela Podcast, along with discussion questions and a transcript for each episode: https://www.publictheologyireland.com/podcast