The second Conversation Café was held March 13th.
“What is Action?” This question presented itself as the focus for the evening’s conversation café. It wasn't so much that the question was asked verbatim, but rather, it was explored through the juxtaposition between, the feeling that not enough is being done and simultaneously that this act of coming together for open compassionate dialogue is a necessary practice, and therefore, is an action in and of itself.
Sitting down with a group of 14 people on a rainy Sunday, a gong rang out to settle us into the evening’s prompt: “How did we get here?”
Each of us was given two minutes to share our name and what moved us to come and participate in this community conversation.
As we went around the room, an appreciation for the space to both listen and share openly was expressed. There is something freeing, something soothing, in honesty, in being listened to, and in truly listening to another, especially someone you don’t know. Shares spanned the range from, full body movement accompanied by words, to moments of silence. What became clear was that a safe space for expressing one’s full spectrum truths and being present with other’s truths is needed, appreciated, and healing.
The conversation shifted to a discussion about the need and want for action. ‘Action’ was never defined, but it was articulated multiple times as being necessary. As the discussion of ‘action’ went around, it was proposed that slowing down to have heart to heart conversation, although by common standards it is not considered as such, is an action - and an important one. This slowing down was identified as a tool for staying present so to not repeat old patterns and thereby, not create the same outcomes. It was described as a way of inviting the new paradigm, a paradigm explored from and guided by the heart.
Near the closing of our discussion a valuable discomfort was brought forth to the group. It was based in a frustration with what was not being said and how, as a whole, we were not talking about specifics.
The comments that brought this discomfort forth had to do with race and white privilege, and how Ashland functions as a utopian bubble. One person asked, “Why does a utopian bubble need to put energy into creating a culture of peace?” and from another, “I am a man of white privilege, I am still benefiting from the slavery employed by my ancestors...and, there are black men still being killed in our society just for being black...”
We host the Conversation Cafe as a reminder that every moment is a call to honesty and bravery, to speak one’s heart, and feel one’s feelings. The power lies in calling in what is not being talked about, being conscious and heartfelt enough to approach discomfort and deep seated emotion so as to empower ourselves and others to transcend our cultural and personal bonds.
There is a beauty in sitting in silence, in listening to others without the need or opportunity to interrupt or promote one’s own agenda. Choosing to give time to heart to heart conversations is taking action, an action that, I believe, is changing our world.
Peace, Love, and Solidarity
*The next Conversation Cafe is this afternoon, April 4 from 4-6pm at Pony Expresso on Main St. We start promptly at 4pm so please show a bit early if you plan to purchase tea, coffee or snacks.
In support of the Heart Warrior Project's current campaign, the theme/prompt for this conversation will be:
The Heart of the Matter...
Hope to see you soon!