Setting Conversations Free

060720091694We’re trying here to get conversations going around culture, cultural difference and cultural relations, but we’re mightily aware that while online conversations are all very well (in particular they help us to talk to people all over the world), we get just as much (and probably more) from talking to a small number of people, face to face.

So we’re proposing an exercise:

We’d like you to invite 6-8 people to meet with you for a short time to have an informal chat. Yes, that’s it, just have a chat. Well, perhaps it’s a bit more.

We’re interested in what people think about cultures and relations between people from different cultures. Our definition of culture is very broad. It may be that you’re most interested in cultures defined by geography: regional, national, continental or even hemispherical cultures or perhaps you get more excited by culture as defined by religion or organisation or political orientation – whatever you like.

You might find it easiest to do this around a meal or drinks but it doesn’t have to be a dinner party in your home, it could be a picnic lunch in the park or over tea and cakes…. or cocktails … or breakfast! But steady on, we’re also going to be asking you to make a record of the event either using video or taking some photos and writing something for our blog. It can be something simple, you don’t have to create a comprehensive documentary, and we don’t want it to interfere with the conversation, but we’d like to have something at the end that captures the spirit of what happened.

Our hope is that you’ll enjoy doing this and perhaps as a result you might choose to continue to get together and talk to each other – it’s nice isn’t it? Furthermore we’re hoping that members of the first round will become hosts of their own groups for another next round – a bit like Tupperware parties…

Here’s the first draft set of instructions for group hosts:

1. Find six people who are willing to take part and choose a time and place to do it. If you are booking a space make sure you have a little time there before and after.
2. Think about your experience of culture: cultural difference, unity, conflict, etc that you wish to share. Be ready to tell a (short) story of your own that illustrates what you’re interested in.
3. Start the meeting at the agreed time. Build in time beforehand for mingling, introductions and smalltalk, depending on how well the participants already know each other.
4. Read together the principles and guidelines for participants (to follow).
5. Tell your story and then let go until you’ve reached the end. Make notes only to capture who said something you’d like to talk to them about.
6. Thank everyone. Give out instruction packs (to follow) to those who’ve taken part and have a discussion, if necessary and if there’s time about what they might do and how you can support them.
7. Ask those whose contributions strike you as interesting to either write a paragraph about it on the blog or speak for a minute on camera. Make this facility open to anyone who wishes to contribute, not just those that you find interesting – and make it clear that they’re free to blog about it wherever they like.

This reminds me is what’s missing:
Some guidelines for participants to read at the beginning of the meeting
Some instructions for submitting written, audio or video content to the blog
An instruction pack to give out, although that might be a link to this post and the guidelines & instructions.

But don’t let that stand in the way of you choosing some people and a place to get together – if you’re interested in doing it, you could get on with 1 and 2 without anything more from me.

Also don’t assume that I’ve got everything covered, if you think you need something more from me to be able to do this, let me know!