I’ve just returned from a day of discussion and networking at the Lowry hosted by the Evangelical Alliance (they’re not as scary as they sound)The Lowry Art Gallery at Sunset, Salford Quays.

I met a whole bunch of interesting people from business, media, arts, health, education and politics and we were given the opportunity to think and talk and dream about how we can be involved in changing society for the better.

How do we engage with the the society that we are a part of, the polis, rather than withdrawing into the individual? Through a recession do we find a safe cave and weather the storm, or use the opportunity to pull together and see what is common?

Not that these are easy questions to answer in practice, but they are made easier by connecting with others and having conversations and being inspired.

One of the most interesting things about the Obama phenomenon has been peoples positive reactions to a message of hope. If we believe what we see in the UK news, millions of people have felt a personal connection to that message, drawing them out of themselves and into political engagement.

Something that struck me from the conversations I had today was that we could probably do with a bit of that hope over here. We do satirical, we do irony very well, we do self deprecation, but what about a bit of hope that things could be better?

What would this hope look like? I don’t think it looks like the ‘national-lottery-it-could-be-you’ style hope that the media is so good at. ”TV hope’ you might call it: presenting an ideal, a better house, or better lifestyle, or better way to cook beef, held out as an unreachable prize while we sit on our couches and disengage, drool and get fat on chips.

Real hope surely has to connect with our own lives, our own stories, our own everyday selves, and those we know of who deserve better.