The Conversation Continues in Bilbao

Inspired by the achievements of the Basque government and a number of
the world’s renowned architects,  World Café Europe held its second
European Gathering in Bilbao, Spain from June 5 – 7th. The Gathering’s
theme “Looking at Renewal with New Eyes: The Bilbao Experience”
attracted participants from as far away as Australia, Bolivia and the
United States to join in the conversation with citizens from all over

This year 11 local World Café conversations with representatives from a
broad spectrum of sectors from society were held: education, health,
business, R&D, business, city and regional development, youth,
social services and the arts. Over 770 people from Bilbao and the
Basque country participated in these local World Cafés.

Two local World Cafés offer a special insight to the spirit of these
conversations with the citizens of the Bilbao and the Basque country: a
World Café with the Basque television (EiTB) and another in the Prision
Nanclares de Oca.

The topic of corporate social responsibility was the topic for the
Basque television’s World Café conversation.  This tri-lingual World
Café – Spanish, Basque and English – engaged 120 individuals to reflect
upon how the television station could more effectively fulfill its
purpose as a supporter of the Basque culture and community. Results of
these conversations will serve to inform the EiTB’s strategy for the
up-coming years.


The prison of Nanclares de Oca provided a unique setting for a World
Café conversation. The director of the prision welcomed the proposal by
prision’s psychologist to host a conversation to discuss the topic
“Enhancing the atmosphere of the prision environment”.  Over 120 people
from in and outside the prision walls – prisioners, guards,
administrators, politicians, family members and victims – engaged in a
lively dialogue to voice their thoughts and recommendations. The
graphic recording for this conversation was a joint collaboration
between a current prisioner and a graphic recorder. Both the graphic
recording and harvesting of ideas will be used by the prision
management to create a better environment for everyone living and
working in the prision Nanclares de Oca.


Over 100 participants joined the conversations of the central World
Café on the topic of renewal. Using Bilbao as an inspiration, this
World Café was designed to inspire renewal in communities, cities,
and/or organizations by exploring their unique creative potential.  The
questions were aimed to generate energy and “chispa” in the
participants for renewal, enable them to “live” renewal on a personal
and collective level,  as well as enable them to jointly create new
knowledge and know-how to lead the renewal process. The  innovation of
a “Walking World Café” made its debut in Bilbao during this central
World Café. Based on questions about the renewal process formulated by
the participants themselves, the role of innovation, creativity, nature
and tradition in Bilbao’s  renewal process were explored by teams of 4
people. The  Guggenheim Bilbao (by the Architect Frank Gehry), the
Zubizuri Bridge (by the architect Santiago Calatrava), the park of
Doña Casilda and the Palacio Euskalduna (former site of Bilbao’s
shipyards) all served as inspiration for these conversations. Jumping
into the Cypernetic Fountain in the park added to the joint learning
experience for one group!


World Café Europe is thankful to innobasque – The Basque Agency for Innovation – for their sponsorship of this year’s Gathering.

Mark your calendars! Next year’s Gathering will be held in late May 2009 at a location to be announced this fall.