In March of 2012, The Eclectic Reader began participating in a nationwide movement to provide a free monthly venue for stimulating conversation. It was a case of parallel invention. I wanted to host an evening discussion group and call it a “Conversation Café.” To my surprise, there already was a trademarked group by that name. I chose to join that movement in order to use the name.
“Conversation Cafes” were cofounded and organized by Vicki Robin, bestselling author of “Your Money or Your Life,” in the summer of 2001 in Seattle. These conversations are hosted by one person who welcomes participants and introduces the process and the ground rules. This creates the minimal structure that allows everyone to get into deep compassionate discussion while maintaining a sense of order and fairness to all participants.
How it works:
Up to 8 people plus the host sit in a circle. Each person speaks briefly to the topic while holding a “talking stick” to signify there may be no interruptions. The stick is passed around the circle while each person presents their thoughts. (In our case, we have a soft, stuffed rat which someone can squish if they are nervous.) One more round is completed before the conversation is allowed free flow. The talking object is a guard against domination and interruption and insures that all will have a chance to talk. At the end of the evening a final round is completed with each person saying what challenged their thinking or inspired them.
A Conversation Café promotes respectful listening and open-minded conversation on meaningful topics. There is no goal other than having a good discussion and building new relationships within the community. We agree to disagree. We welcome challenges to our point of view. Complete bio-diversity is encouraged: all ages, sexes, nationalities and status. Come join the fun.
Some topics we have already covered:
- Can One Person Make a Difference?
- New Year’s Resolutions
- Do You Believe in the Paranormal?
- Do We Create Our Own Lives?
- When Do You Feel Most Alive?
- How to Survive on Less
- Tell a Story
- How Much is Enough?
- As If You Were Dying: Give Your Last Lecture
- The Power of Words
- Should Marijuana Be Legalized?
- Renewal, Rejuvenation, Re-birth
- Gay Marriage
- Gender Identity
- Your Bucket List
- Favorite People
- What Principles Do You Live By?
- What Would Other People Change About You?
- Your Favorite Quotations