A Conversation Café is a 90-minute hosted conversation which is held in a public setting like a coffee shop, bookstore or library, where anyone is welcome to join. Its simple format helps people feel at ease and gives everyone who wants to a chance to speak.
The CC method was created by Vicki Robin, Susan Partnow and Habib Rose. During the summer of 2001, Habib, a natural networker, invited Vicki Robin and Susan Partnow to experiment with organizing neighborhood gatherings of “Cultural Creatives” in Seattle. The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World is a nonfiction social sciences and sociology book by sociologist Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson.
The three Seattleites were set to launch Conversation Cafés in September 2001, but changed gears after the 9-11 terror attacks took place. They immediately began hosting CCs to help people process their emotions and thoughts on what had and was happening in the country.
Imagine Chicago is a Chicago-based nonprofit that facilitates and trains people in community visioning practices. Founded by Bliss Browne in 1992, the organization utilizes a three-step process of understanding what is, imagining what could be through collaboration, and creating what will be through action. Its community visioning and planning model incorporates Appreciative Inquiry (with an emphasis on intergenerational collaboration), Open Space Technology, the World Café, and asset based community development. This approach has inspired the creation of Imagine and other community planning projects spanning six continents. Learn more at imaginechicago.org and see a list of similar initiatives cited by NCDD members below.
Imagine Chicago “designs, manages and facilitates intergenerational and intercultural networks and partnerships which cultivate hope and civic engagement and harness imagination for public good” through the use of constructive questions, dialogue, curriculum and event design, and network formation.