I am always exploring ways that Squish can be adapted and morphed into other ways of engaging in substantial conversation, so was delighted to chat with Beth Katz of Project Interfaith about its Zest Casual Conversations to Freshen the Mind series and, not least, its Face to Faith: Speed Dialogue events. As the name suggests, somewhat similar to speed dating, these are gatherings where participants pair off and for 5 minutes cultivate conversation around faith and its many diverse aspects. Katz told me it was hard to tear people away as their allotted time expired.
Even speed dating can have unique conversational twists, as evidenced by Omaha Public Library’s version of this forum, Hardbound to Heartbound, which is for book lovers. At most speed dating functions, people talk about their jobs or their hobbies. At this event, people are encouraged to talk about what they like to read.
Another vibrant take on the conversational forum is Theodore Zeldin’s Oxford Muse. Among the many methods of discourse Zeldin has inspired is the Conversation Menu such as this one hosted by the UK’s Oxford Muse Society earlier this year. The idea is not just to engage in the connection that comes from sharing a meal, but to enhance a human empathy and intimacy that comes from substantive conversation, prompted by a “menu” of thematic questions.
The School of Life in London, a place so whimsically and deliciously titled I am eager to visit, offers enticing sounding classes such as How to Have Better Conversations and their own version of the Sunday Sermon.
There are many formats for delightful, challenging and revealing conversation. I’d like to hear from you by leaving a reply below with any ideas you have for a conversational forum. Let’s chat.
As with all conversations, it depends on the folks at the table. The Heartbound to Hardbound event was well organized and entertaining, but my girlfriends and I noted how, even with prompting, the men who attended were not interested in talking about books. . . they were mostly veterans on the speed dating circuit. So, this is a call to all the single men who like to read; Go To the Next OPL Speed Dating Event!!! Change the Conversation!