D.A.N.C. Dinner And Nifty Conversation
About a month ago I started forming a conversation circle
at my home every Wednesday night. I call it Dinner And Nifty
It is an opportunity to connect and share with a community
of friends and strangers to talk about what really matters
to us. Its format lends itself to deep levels of conversation
and an equity in participation that isn't forced but comes
naturally in this safe environment.
D.A.N.C. is modeled on my friend Kelly Hansen's weekly
gatherings mixed with the conversation circle model presented
to me through Margaret Wheatley's Turning
To One Another and the Thought
Leader Gathering group in the Twin Cities.
We gather every Wednesday at 7:00 to start D.A.N.C. The
first hour is used to detox from the day, drink a little
wine, small talk, grab bite of homemade pizza, risotto,
or something else easy to cook. Around 8 o'clock when everyone
is settled and filled we shift into part two of the evening
- The Conversation
We literally sit around in a circle in order for everyone
to clearly see everyone else. I create a circle of candles
and light them one by one to focus everyone on the center
of the circle. That which is at the center is referred to
as "the beauty" and provides a place to focus
our thoughts and remember why we are here; to share and
think together. You see, "conversation is the natural
way humans think together" - M.Wheatley.
This conversation is not like any other that most people
have had. As such, there are some general guidelines which
facilitate its movement. In this circle of conversation
the questions are often more important than the answers.
Reflective thinking is the outcome. Curiosity is the instrument.
It is not about what you know, but rather, what you want
to know and what we (the circle of friends) want to know.
In this circle it is essential that we see each other as
equals, if not, we break down into dialogue and monologues.
We open the circle with the lighting of the candles. A
moment of silence or an opening quote follows. Then we pass
around a song pod (its a metal rock which chimes as it spins
- it our form of a talking stick). One of the guidelines
is that while someone has the pod in their possession only
they are allowed to speak. All others listen.
The first round of passing the pod is to say hello and
let the circle know where you are right now (open, tired,
excited, nervous, happy etc.). The next round is to throw
out to the group - what would you like to know or explore
today. During both of these passes there is no cross talk
(no responding to, critiquing, nor direct inquiry of another
member of the circle).
Here is where the fun begins and democracy kicks in. We
as a group select a topic. Often people are on the same
thought pattern which makes this easy and flow smoothly.
Other times it is messy and we choose the one which has
the most attraction from the group. The topic is phrased
in a question. Past Topics have been -
Am I becoming someone I respect?
What is Love?
What is war?
By maintaining a sense of curiosity the conversation evolves
in interesting directions and deeper insight is gained.
Often the question someone asks contains the answer they
are seeking. Other times the interpretation of the question
shifts the path that the conversation takes. The pod/talking
stick is passed until it is no longer needed and the questions
hop around and across the circle.
After an hour and a half of fun, deep insight, and connecting
on a personal level we close the gathering with a checkout.
We pass the song pod one more time - What are individuals
taking away from the experience? Usually the shifts in awareness
and attitude are deep and wide.
I would like to open the invitation to anyone who lives
in the Twin Cities or is coming to visit to join us for
D.A.N.C. - drop me a line and I'll send you information.
If you are interested in learning more
or starting your own circle, give me a call and we can explore