The following text was submitted to NCDD by The World Cafe Community Foundation. For more information, go to http://www.theworldcafe.com.
What is the World Cafe?
The World Cafe is a living network of conversations around questions that matter. It is an easy-to-use method for fostering collaborative dialogue, particularly in large groups. It is, simultaneously, a provocative metaphor enabling us to notice the often invisible webs of conversation and social learning which lie at the heart of our capacity to share knowledge and shape the future together.
Using the World Cafe as a method empowers leaders and other professionals to intentionally create focused networks of conversation around an organization or community's real work and critical questions. Cafe conversations are designed on the assumption that people already have within them the wisdom and creativity to confront even the most difficult challenges. They are based on the natural process by which authentic conversations enable people to think together, create shared meaning, strengthen community and ignite innovation. Given the appropriate context and focus, Cafe dialogues allow members to access their mutual intelligence in the service of desired outcomes.
The process is simple, yet often yields surprising results. In a World Cafe gathering, you join several other people at a Cafe-style table or in a small conversation cluster exploring a question or issue that really matters to your life, work or community. Others are seated at nearby tables or in conversation clusters exploring similar questions at the same time. People are noting down or sketching out key ideas on the Cafe's paper tablecloths or large cards.
From these intimate conversations, members carry key ideas and insights into new small groups. This cross-pollination of perspectives is one of the hallmarks of the World Cafe. As people and ideas connect together in progressive rounds of conversation, collective knowledge grows and evolves. A sense of the larger whole becomes real. Innovative possibilities for action are made visible.
Under what circumstances is the World Cafe model most successful or fitting? The Cafe process is almost infinitely malleable and will work with any group of 12 or more. We have successfully conducted Cafes with 1200 people, so size is not a problem. To date most of the Cafes we have designed, hosted and convened have been to enable large groups of people to think together about some aspect of their common future. It is a powerful community development tool. The World Cafe process has been used successfully at large conferences, at town meetings, among educators, for designing and implementing organizational strategy, and in numerous other settings. For stories and examples of how and where the Cafe has been applied, please see our website.
We are not aware of people who have used it as a primary means of working with conflict. It is very possible to use the Cafe to explore the roots of a conflict, but it would require careful planning and skillful facilitation to do so.
The World Cafe Community Foundation
The World Cafe is supported by the World Cafe Community Foundation, a not-for-profit organization. We make information about the Cafe process freely available to anyone who inquires. Additionally, the World Cafe Community Foundation is continually exploring new ways to use the World Cafe in service of life-affirming principles.
World Cafe Resources
The World Cafe website (http://www.theworldcafe.com) includes an overview of the principles, a free downloadable guide to hosting a Cafe, and numerous stories and articles about the Cafe.
Pegasus Communications also offers The World Cafe: A Guide to Hosting Conversations Consider China, with its 20-year tradition of weekly public English Corners around the nation--in public parks and on campuses. In some cities there is an English Corner somewhere every night. These folks do DIALOGUE!!! Consider that in China folks pay hard-earned money just to hear/talk with a native speaker in English. Consider that evangelical Christians have Websites advising their committed believers to come to China and make contacts at the English Corners. Here in Shanghai we're developing an innovative approach to Dialogue, with movie-based role play, at a Performing Arts school. We welcome the opportunity to be of assistance to anyone interested in coming to China. INFO on our school http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-06/08/content_337682.htm INFO on English teaching in Shanghai www.thatsshanghai.com INFO on teaching in China www.chinatefl.com At your service in Shanghai,
Kevin Gaudette P.S. The Tai Chi partner-practice of Pushing Hands is a profound process for transformation/rooting in dialogue principles. We are planning an income-generating Chinese-English learning community, w/bases in Shanghai as well as Yellow Mountain. firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.chinatefl.net is an excellent way for foreign teachers,students, or any individuals who want to explore and understand the Chinese culture through interaction with the local Chinese people
http://www.chinatefl.net is an excellent way for foreign teachers,students, or any individuals who want to explore and understand the Chinese culture through interaction with the local Chinese people