Peaceful World Center at the Red Victorian Bed & Breakfast San Francisco

 

 

 

In This Section:

 

 

The Set Up: Things to Consider

In order to make your Peaceful World Conversation as productive as it can be, there are various factors to take into consideration. Here are some of the things to consider in preparing for a successful World Conversation

 

The Space:

You will need a table big enough for 4 to 9 people. Round tables are ideal and should be large enough to spontaneously add more chairs. It is helpful if additional tables are available nearby for other groups if needed. Lacking a round table, two small cafe tables can be pushed together. Try to avoid long or large tables where the conversationalists are not in equal contact with each other. Other than items directly pertaining to the conversation, try to keep the middle of the table clear. Flowers and ornamental items are often best relegated to the food service or other parts of the room.

It is best for the location of the table to be visible from the entrance but positioned off to one side. This will create a public space accessible to anyone but also give a sense of privacy for the participants to be able to hear and engage one another.

Entering the room, participants see a welcoming sign indicating the "Conversation Table" and inviting them to sit down and introduce themselves if others are already there. In the center of the table is a Welcome Card with instructions and suggestions for possible topics of conversation. Anyone who wants to suggest a topic for discussion is welcomed to do so; topics are frequently selected from the table centerpiece card.

 

The Atmosphere:

Quiet and casual. A welcoming atmosphere includes a quiet enough environment for people to easily hear each other. Background music, or noisy café equipment can create distractions that impede a good conversation.

 

The Host:

It is preferable for each table to have its own host. If one person is hosting more than one table, he or she should move around from table to table. More than 3 tables require a microphone or a very quiet environment in which the host can facilitate to keep everybody involved and comfortable.

 

The Participants:

Conversationalists are any and all interested travelers passing through or staying at the B&B or travel site, as well as local people invited by the host or also just passing through.

 

The Topic:

Questions posed as topics of conversation are all-important. Giving the participants the option of choosing their own conversation topic provides the experience of deciding what needs to be addressed, and of feeling connected to important issues and to other people. What do we all have in common in shaping the kind of world that works for all?

The Host should help to focus the question agreed upon by participants and shape it in such a way that allows everyone to relate their personal experiences to the topic at hand.

 

Refreshments:

Since time immemorial food and drink have gone together with good conversation. For travelers, a breakfast at the beginning of the day or perhaps a shared supper after a day of adventure can be a welcoming homecoming. We find a self-service buffet ideal for this purpose. Of course the owners of each café or facility will have their own style of combining the delights of nourishment of both body and soul and will be able to make arrangements with the conversation host. At the beginning of the conversation the host should identify short "break" times for replenishment of food and drink. This will give participants an idea of how the conversation time will be structured and keep interruptions to a minimum.

 

Language Issues:

The wonderful variety of traveling guests can often make possible various language tables. Bringing French Canadians in touch with French travelers or second language speakers can be as enlightening about people’s similarities and differences as sharing on the topic itself.

 

Friends and Strangers:

While anyone is invited to join the table with their travel partners, it is important to encourage the table(s) to consist of people who are very different from each other. Exciting realizations are made when strangers become connected in ways they did not expect, learn something new about each other and themselves, and make new friends. Husbands and wives, people traveling in pairs or groups should be encouraged to split up between tables if there are enough people to create multiple conversation tables. They can enjoy new conversationalists at a different table, thus expanding the experience they can both share with each other after, and expand their circles of friends.

 

Disruptions:

Latecomers often provide the most disruption and stop a meaningful conversation from ever developing. The best way to address this usually is to not include them after the conversation has begun. Invite latecomers to "fish bowl" the conversation, sitting and listening in right behind the participants at the table. Other guests may elect to sit at nearby tables, informally listening. All are welcome and they often join the participants after the closing of the conversation.

The same goes for people who need to leave early, catch a plane, or meet friends. Participants should be aware that they need to commit to the allotted time frame of the conversation in order for it to flow smoothly and be productive.

 

Breaks:

The host must stay aware of the flow of the conversation. If it seems that the conversation and participants would benefit from a short break, the host can suggest that the participants take a few moments to replenish food and drink and come back to the conversation refreshed.
 

 

Click here to continue: The Process: Eight Steps