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WORLD CAFE® – But Hold The Music!

You may be familiar with N PR’s WORLD CAFE®, a program of diverse musical expressions, but the WORLD CAFE® I’m writing about is something quite different. It is sometimes linked with “appreciative inquiry,” an academic approach to organizational development popularized in the late 1980s that has been described as “positive, life-centered approaches to organization, group, and global change.” While working on the recently-completed update to Long Beach’s community cultural plan, several members of the planning committee suggested using the WORLD CAFE® approach for our public sessions. It is a conversational process that aims to address meaningful questions by building networks of ideas across groups of people. The collective conversation leads to new insights into the issues at hand and possible solutions. Using the resources of the Long Beach Nonprofit Partnership to assist with facilitation in a comfortable, informal setting at the Museum of Latin American Art, we were able to engage over 120 people in six different discussion areas of “emerging themes” on a Saturday morning, and to elicit ideas, concerns, and insights – as well as passion and connection – that have informed the process in profound ways.

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