A new conversation-generating project
From: John Wallace (walla003TC.UMN.EDU)
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 17:18:03 -0500

Back in the spring we talked at a folk school retreat about setting up
conversation tables in public spaces. The concept is simple: place a sign on
a table that designates it as a place open to public conversation, where
people can sit and talk to each other. Simple guidelines would be provided,
along with suggested questions (that could be displayed
with the sign to draw attention), and there would be a journal to record the
conversations that happened. Volunteers could also be tapped to facilitate
occasional conversations that could be advertised ahead of time in the
coffee shop.

Through a lively brainstorming session a name was created - ChaTTable - to
represent the concept both visually and conceptually. Graphics were designed
and signage created. And now ChaTTable is ready for a trial spin.

The ChaTTable group invites you to an evening meeting on Monday, October 20
for anyone interested in trying out the conversation table idea.  The
meeting will be held at the Dale Street Greenhouse, 533 North Dale Street,
St. Paul.

We will start the session by assembling and binding the pages for a set of
"Chatbooks" that will be used as journals at the ChaTTables. If you would
like to get in on this and learn how to make a simple stab-bound book, come
at 6:30 p.m.

Beginning at 7 p.m., trained facilitator Sharon Anderson will illustrate
what we're talking about by leading a conversation around a question chosen
to demonstrate the ChaTTable idea. After some time for discussion, she'll
review some guidelines for us to use in facilitating conversation groups.

By about 8 p.m., we'll get down to the business of deciding who would like
to get involved, and with which coffee shops.  We'd like to have two or
three volunteer facilitators for each of approximately 4 to 6 coffee shops
trying out the concept for a couple of months, beginning in November.
Coffee shop owners can decide to set aside a ChaTTable for any period they
wish, just by placing the sign on the table.  The volunteers would probably
facilitate one posted conversation every couple of weeks over the trial
period.  The meeting on October 20 should be over by 9 p.m.

If you're interested in attending the October 20 meeting, please RSVP.  If
you have a coffee shop where you want to try this out, let us know ASAP so
we can help you make the contact. If you are a coffee shop owner and are
interested in having a ChaTTable in your shop, we want to be sure to follow
through!  Let us know!

Anyone who is curious about the ChaTTable idea is welcome on October 20.
But please let us know you're coming so we can plan our snacks accordingly.
Please send your RSVP to Scott, sgriz [at] yahoo.com.

Scott Gueltzow, Nancy Longley, and Jan Hively

John Wallace
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Philosophy
University of Minnesota
831 Heller Hall
271 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0310
(612) 624-5210
FAX (612) 626-8380
walla003 [at] tc.umn.edu

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