Conversare – currently in holding position in the Adelaide Central Market while moving along elsewhere

April 30, 2017 |  by  |  Uncategorized

As mentioned recently Conversare in the Market is in abeyance for the moment while alternative promotional  approaches are being considered.

For there appears to be two ‘spirit of the times’ at play.  One is the ever present desire to connect deeply with others – including strangers  – as in times before security guards came on the scene.

This spirit may be thought of as described here:

“The mood [in my local café] among the customers was unusually good humoured. As I stood there, enjoying the pastry smells and the friendliness of the place, I felt that I had stepped into a generous little haven of old fashioned good will.”

From a radio interview with the author of ‘Love Song’, a novel by Australian writer Alex Miller

For this captures nicely what the host of a Conversare event wishes to express.  Given that one of the main roles of the host is to indicate that the purpose of these gatherings is to provide opportunity for anyone who wishes to join in to connect well – have real connection – to others present in a space which is friendly, secure and hospitable.

This is what happens:

‘You arrive – whatever your background and without needing to know anyone else – are given a tag on which to write your first name and mix informally with likeminded people. The start is being welcomed by the host who introduces the principles and procedures of this way of socialising. Among these are ‘Whoever comes are the right people’ and ‘Do you see that we are here to give not to get’?

And then invites all present to choose their main course produced wonderfully by Lucia’s Pizza Bar – Adelaide Central Market

Once you have this you find someone you don’t know with whom to have your meal together. Everybody present does this, all participate fully. With starting questions such as ‘What has attracted you to be here’? And ‘Who are you’? Once this conversation is under way it is often difficult for host to bring it to a halt!

The second conversation is over the dessert. And here there is currently a ‘rethink’ going on. For until recently the host has invited participants to come together in a circle to express their feelings and observations on the experience of being present. This has led to numerous ‘heart felt’ comments on what has been experienced.  See Feedback.

What is now being considered for this second ‘leg’ of the event is for each pair to join with another, ie groups of four to explore the question: ‘In what way(s) may we contribute to the vitality of the community in which we live’?

With the events being held in the Central Market which is on the heart of the CBD (Central Business District) this question may be helpful to residents in the CBD. Including those in the newly built high rise apartment blocks.

Another pervasive spirit is that of being fearful of strangers and being chary of stepping outside ones’ comfort zone. For in our modern fragmented,  technological and consumer driven ways of living many of us feel disconnected to others. And yet either do not know what to do about this or don’t feel inclined to take the initiative.

This may be thought of as the way cities deal with their built environment and space isn’t conductive to connections. With a result that a significant proportion of residents suffer with social isolation.

For now let me say that the Conversare experiment is one approach designed to address this kind of social disconnection. With the purpose in mind to have an easily accessible place in which anyone who wishes is welcome to participate. In ways that may remind those who come just what can happen when they become more conscious of being curious and listening carefully to what they hear – and learn – from engaging with strangers.

To add: Conversare featured in the Adelaide Fringe 2017 in March of this year. With the difference from most other events in that there were no performers, no stage and no spectators.  The interaction between pairs of strangers over a meal was the entertainment! Some of those who participated found it to be so ‘enlivening’ and ‘enjoyable’ they wish it to be offered periodically during the forthcoming winter.

Watch this space for developments with how the process evolves in diverse places.

Looking forward.



Al (formerly Alan) Stewart, PhD
Social Artist
Facilitator of conversations that matter and participatory
Retired Senior Lecturer in Primary Health Care, School of Medicine, Flinders University, Adelaide
Senior Fulbright Scholar at Stanford Univerity, USA
Web:  Multimind Solutions
Blog: Conversare

Member: National Trouble Makers Union


“Whenever we treat each other well good things happen.”


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