More to Conversare than I had been aware

March 14, 2013 |  by  |  Uncategorized

“We should be more demanding of our social lives. Rather than seeing a successful encounter as a rare gift, we should expect to engineer one regularly.”
Alain de Botton

 “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”
George Orwell

It has dawned on me, through hosting a Conversare event in the Adelaide Fringe recently that these are primarily very enjoyable ‘informal’  social get togethers. This is what the participants in this event reported.

I had tended to put the emphasis on the interaction between pairs of strangers. Which I now see is just one component of the event as a whole, one in which people come to have ‘successful encounters’ through rich face-to-face conversation.

Which may be for many reasons, among which – as has been said often by previous participants – that they hunger for such.

This happens naturally and easily once being made welcome by the host – and by others, particularly those who have attended previously. Along with being assured that everyone present are ‘the right people’ to be here. Together with the feeling that they have ‘entered into a generous little haven of old fashioned goodwill.’

In which everybody participates and nobody is trying to put something over to others. Knowing that all is asked of everyone is that they give of themselves by being interested in whoever it is they happen to meet.

Purely for the joy of ‘encountering in the moment.’

With these as the ‘starting premises’ of the event the ‘breaking of bread’ among pairs of participants who have not met previously also just flows.

Joelle’s lovely story in my last blog post of such a ‘duet’ encounter captures the spirit which pervades, in my observation, when participants appreciate that these events are an opportunity to really connect with all present  even though may be strangers.

As you may appreciate, these are not events in which to explore topics or address issues. They are not ‘meetups’ of people who share common interests or passions – although they could be within such groups periodically in which members get to know each other in more depth than usual.

The explicit purpose of Conversare gatherings is to have a wholesome social experience through bringing conversation to life. And perhaps that participants be encouraged to do this subsequently in their own ‘way of being.’

Have you ever had the experience of participating in a social event set up in this way?

Do such informal social gatherings, where people can casually meet knowing that they will rich and satisfying conversations in places such as pubs and cafes, matter?

I am making the opportunity to introduce the idea that this kind of gathering becomes integral to orientation for new students at a particular university.

Given that a major role of the university is to be a place in which to learn to be competent social beings: to be able to talk, to listen and learn from those who are different. And that this role needs to have a focus at the highest levels of policy making.

What can happen?

Alan Stewart
Social Artist



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