Conversare – underpinning principles and values

May 29, 2017 |  by  |  Uncategorized

Conversare is for people who wish to open up their lives. People who recognise that these novel events are an enjoyable and intriguing way of doing this, whatever their stage of life.

These are adventurous spirits who recognise that this interesting new way of socialising could be a step into the unknown, being different from how they usually relate to the world around them and with the potential to have unexpected outcomes.

Conversare events are designed to provide invigorating and enjoyable experiencing for all participants through interacting with people they have not met previously. While it might at first sight this could seem to be a little risky, you would no doubt appreciate that there is no possibility of leading a life of fulfillment and adventure without some risk taking!

They are also to co-create contexts in which those who have such experience may become more conscious of the kinds of principles and values on which these gatherings are based.

These ‘underpinnings’ of Conversare are have their roots in modern face-to-face facilitation processes which are designed to promote rich conversations about issues that matter. Among these processes which with I am familiar – and have much experience – are Open Space Technology, the World Café and the Art of Hosting.

One of the longstanding practitioners of these noted:

“I work with both Cafe, Open Space, … the bottom line is that these are not tools, but ways of being [emphasis added]. They are experiments in how human beings can be together in a way that nurtures their spirit and the blue planet we live in. These processes work when they serve a deep and meaningful intent for all those gathered.”
Tim Merry

The ‘intent’ of how these are usually brought to bear is to enable participants to address complex issues in ways that lead to constructive outcomes derived from harnessing collective intelligence and associated wisdom. There is much evidence of the effectiveness of these approaches and growing awareness of the value –and urgency – of using these processes widely.

Conversare events are also facilitated or hosted conversations.  With the difference from the more usual  purpose in the use of these processes in that there is no ‘issue’ to address, no problems to be solved, no strategies to develop and no outcomes to aim for.

               For now the focus is on the connecting which happens between participants during the event.

How well this happens may be considered in part to be related to the experience and skill of the person doing the hosting.

Also, however, are the underpinnings of the conduct of the gatherings, to which potential participants are alerted through the invitations to come along and by the opening of space by the host. And so participants are alerted to the idea that all present have a contribution to make through how they participate.

Here are thoughts about such underpinnings, drawn from diverse sources, some recorded from longstanding ‘traditions’ which emerge as periodic reminders in sources such as the lists of the facilitation processes mentioned above:

Principles

. Whoever comes are the right people.

. Whenever we treat each other well good things happen.

. The main way in which we treat each other well is through conversing.

From Latin con versare – to turn or to dance together.

. Wherever it happens is the right place. Such contexts can be thought of as a ‘generous little havens of old fashioned goodwill.’

.  Be prepared to be surprised!

Values

.  A consciousness that to participate implies wishing to ‘give’ rather than ‘get.’

. A deep respect for one another as individuals.

. A fundamental belief in human goodness and each person’s ‘will to do good’.

. All present have a role to play in the success of the ‘once in a lifetime’ event.

. We are in this together and to treat each other well.

 

To matters of what could appeal to you and attract you to come along to an event.

As you likely intuit there are diverse ‘wants’ which could be met by being a participant, among which are your feeling:

.  a desire for more sparkle in your life.

.  hungry for meaningful conversation.

.  a wish to make new friends.

.  socially isolated.

.  of being in a transition phase of your life.

.  a desire  break periodically from digital connecting.

.  you enjoy meeting new people.

. are new to a place, perhaps as a migrant or refugee.

. you like the idea of engaging with people of different backgrounds and ages.

And of those who appreciate that one way of doing this is to meet people from different walks of life, different first languages and whose stories they could not imagine.

To add:

“The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humour and style and generosity and kindness.”
Maya Angelou

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”
David Orr, from his 1992 book  Ecological Literacy: Education and the Transition to a Postmodern World

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman  (American Theologian,Clergyman  and Activist19001981)

 

Do you recognise the possibilities arising from this enterprise in regard to the potential benefits to participants and venues, and also for a new career option for people who have a passion for the kind of facilitation?

 

Note: The above has been updated from what has been written over the past few years. 

PS Here are several comments which you may also perceive as being delightful:

On the experience of participating in a Conversare event.

Two from an event near to Ashville, North Carolina, USA. May 2013

“The room was filled with people of all ages in a way that felt natural and as if we had all come home. The dialogue was engaging, but the overall feel of being part of a greater joining is what comes to mind.”
Karen Head

“It was a great exchange and a new understandings and unexpected connections emerged.”
Juanita Brown (Co-founder of the World Café)

 See: Conversare in America

And these from where Conversare was ‘born’ – in Hong Kong

“Bringing people together in a freewheeling manner such as you offer is so valuable. I know from the various events you hosted in Hong Kong. It encourages people to look at new things and ideas and avoid the tendency to be confined to one career approach or mentality as you meet people from all sectors and cultural backgrounds…and variety is the spice of life!”
Vonnie Boston

Urban living relegates people to having thinner human/ physical connections. Enterprises like Conversare redress this gap and natural human craving for close personal contact.”
Mani Goel

“I must admit I approached conversare with some trepidation as i am not the touchy feely type and I wasn’t sure what or who to expect but i thoroughly enjoyed myself. The ambiance was warm and friendly , totally non threatening. I didn’t feel anything was expected of me other to than to be there and enjoy myself.  All the people there were people I wanted to meet and talk to and it was so interesting sitting with someone completely new ,who led a totally different life style in Hong Kong.

Thank you for a lovely evening.”
Annemarie Bailey

Comments on experience of participating in these events in Adelaide in South Australia can be seen in Feedback

 

Do the ideas in this post help to bring home to you what conversing is truly about and why having contexts in which it happens matters.

 

Alan Stewart
Adelaide

BookTime to converse – at the heart of human warmth

 


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