Published Friday, 14 December 2012
I guess that's why you get under our skin - why we love your potential, but sometimes fear for your sanity.
To report the news in this place is to experience and communicate every facet of that. The highs and the lows all become stories to tell. But in the midst of all that, even in the furore over flags, alternative voices can emerge - from people whose stories could so easily be so predictable.
This week, I chatted with a bunch of young people from a loyalist community about the flags issue. I thought I knew how the conversation would go. I got ready to respond to the mantras I expected to hear. Instead I listened as these teenagers presented creative solutions to the problem and expressed hope that they could be a different voice in the midst of the messiness.
Then just today I got to hear about a Northern Ireland charity project that aims to make a movie - using a cross-community group of ex-prisoners as its cast. Run by ESC, 'Prospero's Prison' is based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, and will be filmed in Crumlin Road Gaol. Its vision - to see the lives of who take part changed as they engage in the creative process, and wrestle with themes that may be close to home.
Artistic Director Tom Magill says he has such a strong sense of the timely nature of the project.
"As we chatted to people on all sides the big word that kept on coming up was betrayal and how we are losing faith in the institutions," he said.
"We wanted to capture how we can break the violence cycle - by being creative, rather than destructive. And how it is possible to find seeds of reconciliation rather than opting for revenge."
Although at a very early stage, this ESC project, headed up by two ex-prisoners, is a timely reminder that change is possible - even in Belfast, especially in Belfast.
© UTV News