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The Commons Cafe
Cafes 
for a 
New World
The January Initiative
 

 
Announcement: 
Coming together
to envision our future
in the post September 11th world 
 
 

 
THE JANUARY COMMONS CAFÉS EXPERIENCE:

“CAFÉS FOR A NEW WORLD”

COMING TOGETHER 
TO ENVISION OUR FUTURE 
IN THE POST SEPTEMBER 11TH WORLD

We are pleased to announce a new initiative:  “Cafes for a New World”.  For the month of January, we are encouraging people all around the nation and the world to engage in deep, meaningful conversations about our lives, our challenges and our future in the post September 11th world.

We are asking YOU to become a Café Host, to organize a dialog group during the month of January.  We will provide organization, framework, networking and review/evaluation.

In addition, we are asking you to spread the word throughout your networks, your contact lists, your neighborhoods, your associations.
 

  CREATING A LIFE AFFIRMING FUTURE:
In the light of the atrocity of September 11th, we as a human community are facing new questions….  new questions without easy answers.   What beliefs and values do we hold most dear in this time of uncertainty and change? What deeper opportunities might this time make possible in our lives?  What can we each do personally to contribute to a life affirming future…. for ourselves and our society?

Throughout human history, the seeds of the future have been sown by small groups talking with others about questions that matter.    Now, more than ever we need to be in active conversation with others. No one can do it alone. We need to call on our collective intelligence to address the questions that are critical to our common future. 
 

We are designing the January Cafés to be:
1. Simple to execute
2. Self-organizing and self-managing
3. Easy to monitor and evaluate
BRIEF CAFÉ HISTORY:
Sharif Abdullah designed the Commons Café in order to address two divergent trends in America: our issues are becoming more complex, while our avenues for meaningful dialogue are becoming more superficial. 

Additionally, we do not encounter “the Other,” those who are not like “us,” in order to involve them in our conversations.

Sharif’s vision of the Café (inspired by Juanita Brown and The World Café process) looks like this: A few friends gather at a crowded coffee house. Conversations deepen. Fundamental issues are discussed. People at another table overhear and join the conversation, presenting different points of view. The conversation is lively, furious, but friendly. No one is trying to “win”.

Sharif says that every Commons Café is an experiment. This takes a little courage on the part of the participants, since most of us like to know in advance how things will turn out. 

The goal of the Commons Café is not to advocate any particular position.  The goal is to create inclusive communities and a future that works for all. 
 

THE CONTEXT FOR THE JANUARY CAFES:
Someone said that we cannot predict our future – we can only create it.  In the face of the changes to our world in September 11th, we have three choices: 

1. we can pretend that things are “normal”, 
2. we can blindly react to the changes, or 
3. we can envision a world that works for all.

One of our goals is to help us become visible to ourselves.  Instead of looking at each other through the media or through opinion polls or talk radio, we will interact with each other across a table, over a cup of coffee or tea.
 

OUR PLANS FOR THE MONTH OF JANUARY:
During the month of January 2002, concerned citizens, colleagues and friends from the Commonway network and other networks across the nation and around the world will host Commons Cafés.  These cafés will take place in neighborhood coffeehouses and restaurants, in organizations, in churches, in schools, and in homes across the world.   The Commons Cafés create a welcoming environment for friends, neighbors, co-workers and even those who have never met to join the conversation.

The local January conversations are part of a much larger network of conversations exploring questions critical to our common future.   Through the Café process, we can see that we are not alone.  We discover that each of our conversations is critical to help us co-evolve a future that works for all. 

In early February, local hosts will share our learnings, insights, and discoveries with those from each of our networks.   Further dialog groups and actions may flow from this January initiative.

This January initiative is intended to be the impetus for greater rounds of dialogs throughout 2002 and 2003.
 

CAFÉ GUIDELINES:
It is our intention that the January cafés are self-guiding.  Therefore, we have placed guidelines for conducting the Cafés on the Commonway website, so that you can download and examine the instructions.  Go to the Commonway Main Menu  Commonway Main Menu for more information.
CAFÉ QUESTIONS:
One of the connecting threads of the Cafés for a New World is that similar groups from across the nation and around the world will be pondering the same questions in roughly the same time frame. 

We will be disseminating to registered Café Hosts a list of sub-themes and questions that respond to our general theme – visioning our future in a post- September 11th world.
 

DATES/TIMES:
You can have a Commons Café at any time.  However, for the month of January, we are encouraging the Cafés for the New World to take place between 15-31 January.  This will allow us to more easily monitor and evaluate the impact of the cafés.
SPONSORS LIST:
Cafés for a New World is sponsored by The Café Collaborative, a group of us who encourage dialog as a key element in evolving a transformed society.  Collaborators include:

Commonway Institute
The World Café
New Road Map Foundation
Berkana Institute

CAFÉ HOSTS REGISTRATION:
If you are interested in hosting a Commons Café in January, please REGISTER with Commonway.  Send an email to café@commonway.org, with the following information:

Your name
Your email 
City, State and zip
identifying organization (if any)

We will provide a database of Café Hosts, so that people in your locale can contact you to participate.
 

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