Published Friday, 03 August 2012
Interface Diaries is a below-the-surface north Belfast story; a project which brings groups of teenagers from across divides into direct contact.
I love its concept - that idea of creating space for young people to ask the uncomfortable questions of each other.
And I love that it was piloted in north Belfast - a place all too familiar with stand-offs, protests and interface riots.
Via this initiative, no subject was off limits for the teenagers - no sectarian taboo left untouched.
Set up by Californian film-maker Will Maloney, with support from Lamb Films, the project has seen groups of young people from Ardoyne Youth Providers Forum and the Shankill Area Project face each other by facing into a camera. Then after 8 weeks, they get to meet face to face.
For teenagers like Daniel from the Shankill the project has been life-altering. Before, Ardoyne was always the other side of the road that was off-limits ... And after?
"I can honestly say the group changed my life. It's given me the chance to meet new friends, change the way our communities think of each other and let everyone know there is a chance to move forward."
This vibe was mirrored by 17-year-old Cory from Ardoyne - whose attitudes had been tainted by the conflict which was all too familiar on his home turf ... And after the project?
"I joined Interface Diaries because I wanted to get to know more about the other side, people I've never met. It's showed me we really are the same in most ways and it's all in your head!"
And for Will Maloney, testimonies like this are the motivation that drives Interface Diaries. He's keen to expand it to other interface communities across Belfast.
"It's like opening little windows within these communities... and it is just so important that these little windows continue to be opened."