On a Sunday afternoon in January of 2015 Andrew Nemr started a weekly ritual: A contemplative time of reflection. We settle into his local hang, order a hot apple cider, and take out his journal. He would spend hours there.
He got bored of asking the big questions with no one else to partake in the journey down the rabbit hole. So, he snapped a photo, and posted it to his instagram, asking anyone who wanted to come and join #TheTable. The Table has since become a space that’s carved out for conversation of a particular type.
Principled Conversation is based on the ideas of curiosity and generosity. We begin with a host and an organizing topic. A small group of participants is gathered. The conversation is allowed to flow wherever it feels lead. Participants guide the conversation by asking questions (curiosity) and sharing their own experiences (generosity).
No assumptions are made about fellow guests and no topics are off The Table. The gatherings are part salon, discussion group, friendly hang out, and Jeffersonian dinner.
PROOF OF CONCEPT:
On January 21, 2017 we did the unthinkable. We brought together eight strangers from across the political, religious, and socio-economic map for a conversation. It was called one of the most divisive times in America. The day after the inauguration of President Trump, and the evening of the first Women’s March. We were in New York City. Everyone’s emotions were running high. Instead of being carried away with all the energy, we paused. In the back of a local hang, we pulled a few tables together, ordered pizza, and sat and talked.
Using the tools of principled conversation the eight strangers were able to learn from one another, share thoughts and concerns based on their individual experiences, and come away from the day different than had we been carried away.
Never once did a debate ensue. Never once did voices raise beyond that of a conversation among friends. Never once did we see each other as enemies. We were there to learn from one another. We wanted to expand our view by seeing the world from someone else’s eyes, and that night, we all did.
The Table has been hosted in multiple venues in New York City, Rochester, NY, Boise, ID, and Stamford, CT.
Workshops on Principled Conversation and How to Host The Table are available. For inquiries send us a note here.