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Climate Café: Conversing Toward a Cleaner World

Felicia Parsons
Do It Green! Minnesota

Climate cafés are a relatively new offshoot of the café discussion movement, which takes its inspiration from philosophical discussion groups tracing their ancestry as far back as Plato and Socrates. Recognizing that it is too easy for people to become disconnected from their community-particularly if their neighbors hold conflicting opinions on important issues-discussion cafés offer a venue for respectful public conversation on the challenging subjects facing us every day. Very often those subjects include such environmental concerns as global warming, habitat loss, endangered species protection, and the role of humans in the environment.

Held in coffee shops, meeting halls, and living rooms, across the country and throughout the world, cafés generally gather monthly. Each host is responsible for structuring his or her conversation while each organization suggests guidelines for maintaining civility, respecting the rights of all participants, and keeping the conversation on track.

Most of the café devoted to general philosophical and societal concerns include discussions of ecological and environmental themes. Cafés devoted strictly to the environment are fewer and farther between and are currently concentrated in Canada. Locally, Do It Green! Minnesota offers a “Host an Eco Party” package with downloadable activities, games, and incentives. With the party package, anyone can organize an environmentally themed café, party, or gathering of their own; either a one-time event or an ongoing discussion.

As people of a bracing variety of ways of world-viewing and world-making come together regularly-as they become more civil, even downright empathetic-they will become more civic-minded; they will strive to become the change they aspire to see in the world at large.

-The Society for Philosophical Inquiry

Read Up

The World Café: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter, by Juanita Brown, David Isaacs, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2005.

Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future, by Margaret J. Wheatley, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2002.

Climate Cafés

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