Conversare – ambience direction and the awe of conversation

December 29, 2017 |  by  |  Uncategorized

This post is about creating contexts in which participants are enabled to converse in ways which enrich each other’s lives. Here you will see insights into elements of living which are often taken for granted and yet ‘revitalised’ in ways outlined can be life changing! <smile>

It begins with a brief overview of differences between Conversare and other kinds of gatherings in which conversation among participants is the core activity. And indicates how you may come to see the potential value of  choosing  to join in local events or to do something similar yourself, wherever it is you live in our little planet, 3rd from the sun.

It is also to foreshadow developments in this way of engaging with each other now looming on the horizon.

Does this appeal to you? And intrigue you? If so have a look around this blog, for there is much to see. But beware that you are likely to notice ‘things’ that set your pulses racing! <smile>

Brief synopsis of Conversare

The essence of Conversare, named from the Latin con versare – to turn or to dance together,  is the experience of being in an event which is designed to ensure that everyone present is a full participant.

Secondly, there is no issue to address or outcome to be reached.

All who participate will have their own perspective of what it meant to them to decide to come along and what they felt about this way of engaging with others.

What precisely are the purpose and potential value of this kind of socialising?

To gain a feel for this let us briefly review the nature of these events. Which is to have gatherings in public places in which anyone who wishes to join in is welcome. The main activity is for everyone to participate by having a conversation, in pairs, over a meal with someone they do not know – a stranger.

Sounds strange to you? Likely yes! For this kind of connection seldom happens, except ‘by chance’ in situations such as sitting next to someone you don’t know on an aircraft or a train. From which you may have memories of enjoying the company of a person who most likely you would not ever connect with again.

Another component of Conversare which is different from most social gatherings is that there is a person who welcomes participants and provides particular guidelines on the essence and associated conduct of the event.

This is the Ambience Director. Never heard of such a role? Likely so as it is not a commonly used tern – yet! But could become more widely known, understood and practised once more Conversare events are held. There are many and varied such evolving!

Before touching on these let us look at what is the role of an Ambience Director and why this is of particular value and significance for situations in which everybody present connects well with others. And all are aware that their own responsibility is to make the most of the opportunity do this.

Ambience Director

This person is a social artist whose role is to help set the special atmosphere, mood, quality, tone – particularly of environment or milieu.  

Which means in effect that he or she helps people to raise their level of consciousness  in being  alert and awakened – be fully present – when interacting with others. In particular in a Conversare event to help participants to come to appreciate something that is also not generally thought of – yet – the ‘awe of conversation’.

To clarify a distinction between the role of an ambience director and that of a facilitator:

This latter can be thought of as to assist a group to explore given matters and likely reach greater clarification and/or resolution of these by the group as a whole.

In the hands of an ambience director of a Conversare event all present feel confident to participate fully. But now the outcome is particular to each person. Which while sharing this with others may happen it is not integral to the process.

And yet, and yet, participants may come to transform the way they interact with others – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, associates – in everyday life.  How does such outcome sound to you?

The awe of conversation

How’s this for a bold contention?

Setting the scene for participants to experience feelings of awe is the essence of the role of the ambience director. By this I mean helping participants to raise their level of consciousness  of being  alert and awakened when interacting with others. And that their coming to know  that conversing with a stranger in the course of a Conversare event is a remarkable gift!

Doing this means much more than the traditional role of a host who welcomes participants and sets them at their ease.

Here I quote from an item that was broadcast recently on our Australian Radio National. I have edited this excerpt  from the program:

“Well to open yourself up to awe is to enable yourself to be mentally healthy. And one of the places where we can all find awe is in conversations with other people. If you stop and you truly listen to people, particularly people who think differently from yourself, it can be quite a life changing experience. Or meeting people whose circumstances are entirely different than your own. And just spending some time considering what life might look like from their point of view. In understanding their perspective on life you’ll often come away with a sense of a very different one about your understanding of the world.  You don’t necessarily have to follow that footstep, or agree with it. That doesn’t matter. But just some times taking the time to get some glint of understanding of it  makes an incredible difference.

And just being prepared to do that. Because we live in a world that often wants to rapid fire answers. And that means we lose that reflective sense of conversation. So one of the easiest ways to be really awed in life is to become a better conversationalist and a better listener.”

Conversare events – contexts for experiencing ‘awe’ when interacting with others

These started in Hong Kong when my wife Carmen and I lived happily for six years until returning home in 2011. Finding that it was a difficult place in which to meet people in more than superficial ways I invented this new way of connecting with each other. And did this in a delightful café in one of the busiest parts of Hong Kong island.

Attendances grew quickly as local people – English speaking – and expats found they greatly enjoyed this way of meeting. And many fine friendships arose.

Now back in Adelaide I and my colleagues have regular Conversare events in the Adelaide Central Market on weekday nights. (The Market is open at night for trading only on Fridays).


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The core activity of Conversare 

To complement these substantial additions are forthcoming in the new year.

This has been sparked partly by our being invited to be the ambience director for a group called Place Makers. Which was held in the Market at night. In this everybody present conversed with someone they had not met previously. This happened prior to the meeting being addressed by several speakers. Feedback from participants has been wonderfully enthusiastic. Which augurs well for more such with other constituents in the near future.

And there is growing recognition of the prospect of introducing Conversare style of connecting at conferences prior to the start of the main business, such as a conference. A first example took place in Manila, Philippines, in November 2016. See here.

I have brought this different way of engaging with each other – potentially from neighborhoods to the United Nations – to the attention of a group called the Great Transition Initiative – of which I am a longstanding member – which is based in Boston, USA.  See here.

To conclude (pheew!) :

I wonder if you have come to appreciate that staging Conversare events in the manner described here could be a ‘game changer’ for people with a range of wants and needs. Such as, for example,  deep feelings of loneliness and/or wishing to add more sparkle to their lives.

And for groups of diverse kinds such as in business or operate in community settings?

Looking forward.

Go well


Alan Stewart, PhD
Social Artist
Facilitator and Ambience Director of conversations that matter and participatory fun

Senior Fulbright Scholar

Blog: Conversare
Multimind Solutions

Mob: +61(0)413848680

Member: National Trouble Makers Union

Residence: Adelaide, South Australia, since 1975
With time away in Hong Kong (2005-2011)  


Whenever we treat each other well good things happen.”
Al Stewart

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