Forum for Alternative Belfast launched on 4th June 2009, a year after the Ron Wiener event at the Cathedral Quarter Festival in 2008. The Forum evolved over its first years through various discussion groups of interested people seeking to address the city and its problems. A ‘think–tank’ and a ‘do–tank’ was coined as the Modus Operandi. Thinkers and doers, strategy, but also practical visions based on professional experience.
The Launch brought together ongoing projects. Various Forum members had been involved in the ‘Let’s Get it Right‘ campaign in the Cathedral Quarter, others had been involved in an exhibition in PLACE in 2006, ‘Happy to Live Here?‘, which looked at contemporary housing issues. An evolving body of work was shown at the Launch, setting out an agenda.
A poster (pdf link below) was also launched, and the Forum continues to publish its findings. One particular piece was the 9 minute film, Belfast Boulevard: a drive around an empty and grey city centre perimeter that shocked viewers into seeing the reality of their city and the need for change if the city was to thrive. At this stage Forum presented a stark analysis of a city that has not recovered from its past traumas, but also an optimism that out of good analysis of real problems might come a chance to set the city on a different course.
Forum for Alternative Belfast sees its role as advocating for a city that is a better place for all. Whilst its study area is Belfast, the ideas and methods apply to all our towns and village centres.