Do you know Vicki Robin? If you are familiar with the living simply movement, you know the book she wrote with Joe Dominquez, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence. Conversation Cafes are what she is instigating now. Very interesting. Not an online group, but conversation circles around the world to build social bonds and social engagement. Vicki writes:
In reflecting on the next steps I might apply myself to beyond promoting a shift in personal consumption patterns, I realized that my core message really wasn't 'Spend less' but was 'Reflect on what you spend in light of your values.' The Conversation Café project addresses the need to increase social intelligence, to build social capital and generate the social engagement so we can actually HAVE a wise democracy. I am doing this by building a network of Cafés where people can have weekly drop-in dialogues about the key inner and outer issues of our times.
"These Conversation Cafés are about free speech. Not as something that can be taken away in an era of repression, but as something one strengthens through self expression in the presence of those who do not agree. Free speech is our birthright. Repressive societies can change the consequences of speaking, but they do not govern our souls.
"I envision a culture of conversation — a culture where people talk freely — without fear or taboos — with friends and strangers alike. I once asked a Dane how Denmark had resisted the pressures of globalization. He said two words: study circles. Most Danes throughout their adult lives have the habit of conversation about things that matter in small groups.
"We can do that here. In cafés. In Britain in the 1700s the government shut down the cafés where people met to discuss politics because they were sites of revolutionary thinking. Here, we get our news from the TV, retreat into private sub-cultures through online chats and interact only with people who see the world as we do. This is a formula for weakening society enough to allow forces of repression to take over. Conversation Cafés are an attempt to reverse the trend."
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