Either we are going to die together, or we are going to live together. And if we are going to live together, we have to talk. — Eleanor Roosevelt
On the premise that what the good lady was referring to is ‘have rich conversations’ or ‘conversation that matter’ …
Questions arise as to how and where to create contexts in which this happens in our ‘modern’ and ‘busy’ ways of being.
For isn’t is astonishing that this human species of ours has not ever – yet – developed cultural norms in which someone takes responsibility for convening conversations in which anyone is welcome to join in.
The point made in two recent articles on The Art of a Lively Conversation and The Lonely American is that this kind of convening and associated connecting seldom happens. And that we are all the losers for this not happening, but probably most people are not aware of this.
I take the view that if projects such as ‘Earth Champions’ and ‘Awakening the Dreamer’ Symposium are to have widespread influence such ‘talking’ becomes critical.
My perspective is based on several premises, among which are:
- “Massive participation in healing the planet becoming a great source of pride for the global citizenry” is one of the main hopes for the future, in my opinion. See: The Great Transition Today, A Report from the Future by Paul Raskin, which I have found to be most edifying and inspiring, and recommend in the strongest terms that people read this. Particularly for the imaginative notion that we did make it through to 2084 having developed widespread human solidarity and ecological sensibility with a deep reverence for the natural world.
- The process of creating suitable environments in which conversation happens is difficult in the somewhat anti-social cultures that prevail in many places. All the people with little plugs in their ears and/or eyes glued to little screens seem less interested today in the basic human intercourse of conversation.
- Much of our modern culture is antithetical to quality relationships. What we do destroys relationships, e.g. graded assessments, impersonal teaching, hierarchical power structures.
- “We should be more demanding of our social lives. Rather than seeing a successful encounter as a rare gift, we should expect to engineer one regularly. The history of conversation suggests that it’s when there are rules around that our spirit can best be set free. We might be tempted to giggle at the artificiality of a conversation menu or the pretentiousness of some dinner parties—and yet we should welcome them for helping us get to the elusive, spontaneous, and sincere bits of ourselves.” Adapted from The Art of a Lively Conversation
- Introducing ways of making this happen is timely given strong evidence of a yearning for a sense of community in this period of financial turbulence. I sense that this derives from an ongoing desire for opportunities to meet new people – or those with whom you have previously connected only virtually, in interesting and wholesome ways.
- It may be that someone of my vintage, who was a teenager before TV arrived on the scene and who remembers how people enjoyed participatory entertainment in their homes, is in a position to recognise how to re-create this kind of ambience. (Hence my subtitle re ‘coming of age!’).
With these thoughts in mind, I am developing an enterprise – along with several colleagues, in which the purpose is to create space in public places for conversations that matter and associated activities to happen. Could this be a key element in setting the scene for building communities that matter?
The Project Imagine going to your local pub or café and finding that you that you have the opportunity to join in, if you wish, a lightly facilitated social activity which promises to be great fun. You may have heard from your friends and associates that they have had much pleasure from doing this!
This enterprise has the aim of creating opportunities for social gatherings which are quite different from the usual. For now we may engage with others in a range of lively activities through being invited to do so by a host. The purpose is to have rich conversation, collective fun, make new friends, and possibly be part of community building.
The development of a ‘process’ based product, provisionally entitled CPM, through which to do just this is well advanced. This comprises a set of guidelines on precisely how to be a host along with ample resources on a variety of possible activities in which people would enjoy participating. Among these are conversations on topical issues, participatory comedy, circle dancing, group singing and diverse games.
The product is to be used in public places such as cafes, restaurants and bars. That this has not been done before opens up vast possibilities for venues that are already thriving and others which are experiencing loss of trade.
There will be an advertised program of facilitated activities, via Twitter, in which all who wish to are welcome to participate. This enables getting together in settings which are independent of places of work and electronic communication. Plus being a participant in a CPM event is not expensive, in fact, it doesn’t cost anything! Nor is it time-consuming, as people can be selective in what they choose to attend.
Several colleagues worldwide and I are developing the business model around which this enterprise is happening.
Great concept indeed — think you just hit it right at bull’s eyes. Long wished for in the recess of our minds but not quite realized or voiced! great going alan! —Velda Kwan
Ideas, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. — John Maynard Keynes