Is it possible to discuss society constructively and get excited about the topic? This is what we will find out in the Timeout project.


In Finland, public discourse is often intense, although participation in it is not widespread. More and more people also feel that their ability to affect society is insufficient.

Therefore, Sitra is interested in finding a new approach to constructive public discourse. Timeout, a project launched in 2017, aims to create the time to stop and think about issues that need to be worked on. We will invite people to discuss societal issues at our events, such as work, immigration, urban planning and taxation.

The purpose of the Timeout is to strengthen people’s participation in society, mutual trust, the understanding of future developments and their connection to decision-making.

We are particularly interested in engaging people who do not typically participate in these kinds of events or who feel uncomfortable taking part in public debate. Participants in the Timeout can expect to pick up advice, learn things from strangers or get the opportunity to challenge others.

Timeout is part of the Next Era initiative to create a vision, launched by Sitra and Demos Helsinki. The goal is to make the final version of the project available for different people and organisations in 2018.

What do we do?

In the Timeout project, we aim to create mutual understanding and bring people together. In 2017, we will implement trials and develop a new approach to encouraging more constructive public discourse.

During the trial, we will organise Timeout events in eight localities to test different methods, together with local participants and the media. The first trials will take place in Joensuu and Kemijärvi towards the end of March and the beginning of April.

Our primary goal is not to change anyone’s mind; instead, we are looking to create more constructive understanding between different perspectives.

We hope that the participants will then launch constructive debates within their own circles, for instance around coffee tables at home or work, or in the communities in which they operate. We are interested in creating a more far-reaching culture of constructive public discourse in Finland and, at the same time, developing society and democracy.

We are planning to create versions of the Timeout to fit any size or scale, so that anyone – neighbours, activists, schools, organisations, municipalities or counties – can launch constructive public discussions as easily as possible.

How to get involved?

You can sign up for the local events by filling out a questionnaire in your locality. There will be requests for experts and project organisers to participate in developing the concept.


Always ready for a dialogue.

Janne Kareinen
Maikki Siuko
Hannele Laaksolahti
Senior Lead, Sitra

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