Archive for Education

Parent Cafes: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Lina Cramer, one of our Stewardship Council Members, shares her experience with World Cafe in her work with parents and families:

I was introduced to the World Cafe a little over 10 years ago. I was searching for a way to impart information to parents that honored their commitment, respected their knowledge and encouraged them to keep loving and learning. I knew a lot about child development, had studied various parenting curricula – even written a couple, yet I was never truly satisfied with the many approaches that assumed that parents need to be ‘trained’ or ‘taught’. And, as a parent myself, I was well aware that parenting is a continual on the job training opportunity. Kids are different, times are different, family life is often a ‘juggling act’.

Parents know a lot, do a lot and care a lot. Yet, no parent has it all figured out all of the time.  Most parents always carry a long ‘to do’ list in their heads – only to be matched by a ‘worry list’ about all the things that aren’t working or what they should have done. In truth, we parents are our own worst critics.

I wanted something different. Something that would engage parents in ways that foster learning and sharing. In Summer 2006, I invited a colleague and friend Lisa to work with our Design Team of Parent Leaders who had accepted the challenge of creating an innovative way to share information about protective factors with parents. Protective Factors are qualities in families that contribute to keeping children safe and families strong. Early in our work together, Lisa suggested we create Parent Cafes to share our information. She held up her book: The World Cafe: Shaping Our Future Through Conversations That Matter and said we could adapt the World Cafe to work with parents, i.e. Parent Cafes. We were intrigued; none of us were familiar with World Cafe. That same day, Lisa hosted a Cafe with our team to explore the protective factors. We were amazed – we laughed, we cried, we shared stories, worries and hopes for our families. We had never had such a deep conversation together! Inspired, we set about designing conversations that would elicit the wisdom and desires of parents about keeping their children safe and their families strong.

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Next Generation Stepping In

On this International Day of the Girl, we share words from an eighteen-year-old girl – about her experiences of participating in circles and World Cafe and her wish to host conversations that truly matter. What a joy it is to witness our next generation of hosts stepping in!

I’m Dorothee, an eighteen year old girl from Belgium. I graduated from a Waldorf High School in June 2017 and I decided to take a gap-year.

Now I’m currently living in a community in Zimbabwe, Kufunda Learning Village. I arrived mid-August and I will stay until mid-December. I’m here as a volunteer teaching in the small Waldorf-inspired Primary School.

Kufunda Learning Village is a rural community where people live and work together, driven by their passions. There is a permaculture garden, they harvest and process food themselves. Besides that, Kufunda is also a learning center and they host workshops and modules, or go out into other communities to host modules. Art of Hosting is not only the core of their hosting activities, it is also deeply present in the way they live. It is not my first time to get in touch with Art of Hosting, Circles or World Cafés but I’ve never been surrounded by so many hosts nor have I been in a place where it is practised in everyday life. I feel it in the little things.

Just some days after I had arrived, I joined the teachers’ 3-day-workshop. How amazed I was the first day, that we did a check-in at the beginning of the day and check-out at the end. Also the following two days we started and ended every time in a circle, sharing how we felt, what questions came… We really took our time for it and I felt that this was NOT AT ALL a waste of time. It was even the opposite, it seemed to be having a real good influence. There was a (stronger) connection between us – people I had never met before – and I loved the ‘whole’ that was created this way. Not just quickly gathering together, listening to the host and then going back to our own lives. No, instead we took time to arrive, to open and to leave, to close.

A little flame had started inside me, my love and awareness for the power and magic of circles, check-ins and check-outs.

By now, almost two months later, this little flame has become a stronger, bigger one. Every meeting we start with a check-in and end with a check-out. No matter how many we are, no matter how much time we have. And I love it. It is so precious and valuable and I feel that taking time for this could be done for whatever meeting or gathering you have. I have experienced it now in Kufunda Village Circle, the weekly gathering where Kufundees sit together and talk about everything that needs to be talked about. Also every meeting amongst the teachers starts and ends with this taking time to talk, but most importantly to listen to each other. With the children in school we also have a weekly circle. And then there’s the bigger Kufunda meetings, like planning sessions. Not only circle, check- in and check-out, but World Cafés are involved! I like this way of thinking and talking together, creating ideas for the future. You’re in a small group, which gives everybody the chance to share his/her voice. When it’s time to change the groups, you see how other people have been thinking and talking about the same question. And there can be such differences! You share what has been said at your table and there’s time to think and talk again. This way, you hear what has been said in all (most of) the other groups. To close the World Café, there’s a big circle and per table there is one presenting what has risen. This overview per table makes sure that everything that has been said, is now also shared in the big group. I’m convinced that this is a very efficient and creative way to plan things when you’re in a big(ger) group. All voices are heard without taking hours and hours.


The flame of hosting meaningful conversations is growing inside me. And I truly believe that it will become a fire one day, able to light the flames in others too.




World Cafe is “Stepping In” on a new level – increasing our capacity to engage most effectively with the challenging issues of our times. Here’s an overview of what we’re envisioning and some of the priorities we’ve identified to start. Please join us and contribute what you can to support this important work.

This blog post is one response to an open invitation to our global community – to step up & express what the gift of the World Cafe means to YOU. We welcome your posts, as well as your comments and shares.

An Essay for the World Café 20th Anniversary

Reflecting on the origin of the World Café and inquiring into the value that we should uphold as practitioners for the promising future…
by Daisuke Kawaguchi, Chief Researcher, Human Value

peaceworldIt has been 20 years since the World Café was born into this world by Juanita Brown, David Isaacs, and other practitioners. Since its birth, enormous numbers of café conversations have been conducted to shape better futures, and now the World Cafe is known as one of the greatest methodologies for generative facilitation in a variety of areas. In Japan, as well, the movement of the café conversations has been wide-spread with a large influence on our way of communication and collaboration after the book of “The World Café – Shaping the future through conversations that matter” was published in Japanese translation.

Reflecting on the very early days, a founder, Juanita Brown once said to me under the beautiful sunshine in Jonesborough, “The name ‘World Café’ came from the desire that the café conversations will be able to contribute to the World Service in the future.” I believe this desire has been half-fulfilled as we see the values and impacts that the World Café has accomplished so far.
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