Hosting a Conversation among Friends
Our conviviality conversations are conversations among friends on cultivating and preserving harmony between the made and the given worlds that help us live through and beyond our ecological crisis. The protocol for this conversation is a multiple step process that begins with an invitation. The conversation itself is generally held over day and half period of time. We feel the sharing of meals, evening activities and even housing can help forge stronger relationships and a deeper conversation.
Below is the general four-step protocol we use to host conversations.
Step One: Invitation: A Conversation among Friends
The following invitation is sent to friends:
You are invited to a conversation among friends on cultivating and preserving harmony between the made and the given worlds that help us live through and beyond our ecological crisis. The intention of our gathering is to bring together friends and colleagues to reflect on the nature of the crisis, and to envision and articulate together pathways for cultivating this harmony. In this conversation we will ask…
“Can we change the ways we live and work so as to establish a preserving harmony between the made and the given worlds?” Wendell Berry
Friendship is the organizing principle for a conversation. Therefore invitations should be sent out to friends who are
- actually engaged in thinking about and addressing the ecological crisis and conviviality
- represent a variety of vantage points for addressing these issues
- draw from different aspects of the four pulses (see below)
- committed to further acting on the vision of a convivial life that emerged from the conversation
- able to offer narrative outputs of conversations (that can take various forms such as an essay, video performance, art works, etc)
Step Two: Provide Reading materials
Everyone who accepts the invitation to the conversation is sent a small set of reading materials that draw from the four pulses and from the work of prior conversation participants. This set of reading materials is selected in conjunction with your conversation facilitator in order to meet the needs of your group.
Step Three: Host a Grounded Convivial Experience
The evening before the actual conversation begins, participants should gather for a meal (or some other shared experience) to allow people to get to know each other and share personal life works and stories of conviviality and the pursuit of a satisfying life.
Step Four: Host Conviviality Conversation
A conviviality conversation takes place over a day and a half and is supported by a trained conversation facilitator. Throughout the time the following questions are considered and the reflections are recorded:
- What about our reality is and is not currently preserving our harmonious relationship between the made and given worlds?
- What is standing in the way of further establishing a more harmonious relationship in the culture? In ourselves?
- What are the alternative ways of living that help to establish the harmony?
- If conviviality means “living WITH life”, what would convivial life look like right here (location of gathering)?
- What nurtures and impedes conviviality in all our lives?
- How can we promote and protect convivial life in this place?
- What is the appropriate role of the market in living convivially?
- What would existing institutions do (i.e. start doing, stop doing, do more of, do less of) if they supported convivial life in our community?
- How can we help energize and regenerate each other so that we all have more capacity to bring forth a convivial life?
- Where are we each interested in putting our energies in creating conviviality in this place?
- What would we like to share with others about our conversation and how can we invite others to join us?
- How do we cultivate the habits of convivial living so that they are part of our culture?
- How can what you’re already doing help promote and protect convivial life?
Step Four: Write the reflections
The final step of the conviviality conversation actually happens after the conversation is over. Participants are asked to create what we call a narrative output within three weeks of the conversation. This output may be an essay, video performance, art works, etc. – as long as it is able to be captured and shared on the internet. A good output is…
- No more than 2500 – 3000 words for written works
- One that comes from and/or reflects on your own lived experiences
- One that builds off of the vision of a convivial life that emerged from your conversation
- One that helps to explore and cultivate the habits of convivial living within our culture
More about the four pulses that inform our conversations:
Pulses are not specific people but rather the variety of experiences people draw from to inform their understanding of conviviality – which are often captured by those who are dedicated to representing that emerging narrative (such as Wendell Berry, Thomas Berry and Ivan Illich).
These pulses emerge from four types of people:
- Ecological Cultural Interpreters (People who are reflecting on and writing about existing, past, and future ecological cultural narratives.)
- Ecological Relationship Builders/Doers (People who are building, preserving, conserving, and forging synergistic relationships with the given world.)
- Economic/ Social Justice Workers (People who are thinking about economic and social issues from an ecological perspective.)
- Spiritual Interpreters/Guides (People who are living, guiding and articulating the new spiritual narrative that is emerging out of our new ecological relationships.)