Conversare – having a rethink in the Market, with an offer on hosting and a request for input on promotion

March 31, 2017 |  by  |  Uncategorized

Conversare in the Market is in abeyance for the foreseeable future. This arises from there being few bookings of late. While ‘curious’ this is perhaps not surprising give the Christmas and January holiday breaks followed by ‘Mad March’ here given over to the Adelaide Festival of the Arts and the Adelaide Fringe.

And so it’s back to the drawing board, in conjunction with the office of the General Manager of the Adelaide Central Market. With the thought that our promotion may need ‘tweaking’.

With the thought too that if this experimental project in this venue does not prove to be a ‘goer’ then ‘no worries’ (as we say in Aus) it’s the only thing that could have and all concerned may pursue their alternative passions.

Conversare, as readers may be aware, is a novel social process in which the main activity is to participate by engaging in conversation with a stranger over a meal. With there being no issue or topic to address, the focus is on ‘each other’, beginning with ‘What attracts you to be here’? and ‘Who are you’? Everybody present does this, everyone participates fully.

A host sets the scene by welcoming everyone and expressing several basic principles, among which are: ‘Whoever comes are the right people’, ‘Whatever happens is the only thing that could have’, ‘We are here to give rather than get’ and ‘This is our opportunity to pay someone our full attention, the most generous act we can do’.

Those who have come along, seem, in the main, to ‘get it’, particularly in enjoying the experience and leaving with a reported feeling of being ‘happily surprised’. Also in coming to appreciate the opportunity to be conscious of what it means to engage with someone with minimal judgment and maximum curiosity. With the thought too that this may be a way to make new friends.

In short, Conversare may be considered to provide of an experience of ‘connectedness’. It has been described by one participant as being “An exceptionally simple way of enabling good talk and enlivening connecting, rebuilding community trust and connectivity.”

If these words do not sound familiar too you, you may be surprised and intrigued to start to notice how often they are mentioned in the context of issues such as the reported loneliness of life in urban environments, being immersed in ‘an emaciated world of insubstantial Facebook connectivity’ and services for people with mental health conditions.

Among what has been accomplished so far are:

. Access to the Market – which is only open at night for regular business on a Friday – after trading hours on weekday evenings in a space which transforms into a meeting and greeting place. This is reportedly the first use of this space at this time in the nearly 150 years of the Market’s history.

. This endorsement of the General Manager of the Market and associated overview of the nature of this novel kind of social event.

. Arising from being aware of the above an invitation to host a Conversare style dinner at an international conference of facilitators in Manila, Philippines, in November 2016. See this podcast.


You may be interested to learn that there is another group – quite independent of what is happening in the Central Market – which is developing an idea to have this kind of social gathering in a particular (nicely heated) café in the western suburbs of Adelaide on cold winter nights. This arose from their “delight filled” experience of participating in a Conversare event which was integral to the recently staged Adelaide Fringe 2017. In this case the events were clearly promoted as an opportunity to experience a ‘happening’ in which there is no stage, no performers and no spectators. The lively participation of everyone present through their interaction mainly with people they had not previously met is the entertainment.

Likely it is that the name will be changed to ‘Conversation in a Café’ – or something similar. With the hunch that con versare – to turn or to dance together may be off putting to some.

To add:

There is, as you may suspect, a depth of background from which the idea and the practice of Conversare events have arisen. Just one is my lovely connection with Julio Ollala, Newfield Network Founder, about 20 years ago. He hails from Chile and is a great friend of Humberto Maturana in Santiago, with whom I also have had an association, including being instrumental in bringing him to Australia twice in the 1990s. Julio invited me to visit his home in Chile; this hasn’t happened, yet. See his recent blog post on The Big Dance of Being.

Could this help you to give you  a ‘glimmer’ of what was expressed by a person who participated in an event in Indonesia as “Simple and deep, a spiritual adventure”?

A request:

Do you feel you would wish to support this experiment in human relating in our current uncertain times world wide? If so please do suggest any thoughts/feelings/intuitions you have about how to ‘put out’ in ways which may attract people to come along to experience this novel way of socialising. You can do this by adding your comment below. Your email address will not be disclosed.

An offer:

If  wherever you are on our little planet, 3rd from the sun, you would wish to learn more about hosting this kind of event drop me an email at

Looking forward.

Go well


Al (formerly Alan) Stewart, PhD
Social Artist
Facilitator of conversations that matter and participatory fun
Blog: Conversare
Member: National Trouble Makers Union


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

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