The Conversation Project
The Spirit of Humanity Forum encourages conversations on love and compassion
The Spirit of Humanity Conversation Project encourages conversations on love and compassion to take place locally, often between small groups of people with a common concern, which might, for example, be healthcare, business or education. All the conversations will have as their theme the power of love and compassion in action, and it will be for the people taking part to decide what the focus is to be – for example love and compassion at home or in work or within the local community. Informal and domestic in style, and seldom with more than 12 people at a time, the conversations may share examples of the work of love and compassion; they may discuss the barriers that stand in its way; they may ask questions about how such work can be done.
How do the conversations proceed?
We imagine the conversations happening between groups of friends or acquaintances drinking tea or coffee together, and possibly having a biscuit or a slice of cake, in the work place, within the community or within interest groups. These conversations are local and often specific, but together they can form an international network of conversations across a whole range of interests.
Conversation Circles: In holding these conversations, we have found it good to have everyone seated in a circle, so that everyone can see one another. The host will often begin the conversation, inviting the group to introduce themselves. If there are a particular set of questions or topics to be discussed, it helps for the host to introduce them each in turn. Some people find it useful to have an object that they pass around, serving as a ‘talking stick ‘or ‘talking stone’, which signifies who is the speaker at any time during the conversation. When one person finishes, they hand the talking stick on to the next person or back into the center of the circle. This helps keep the conversation flowing and ensures that everyone is encouraged to speak and listen to everyone.
Reflection Time: As the host introduces each question or topic, it often works well to give the group a couple of minutes to reflect and begin to formulate their thoughts. People’s comments will build on one another’s as the conversation develops, but it’s nice to have a few moments of quiet time for reflection.
If the local group would like this, the Spirit of Humanity Forum can draw together the findings of the conversations, linking them to others taking place so that those taking part can become connected one to another in a practical and increasingly well-informed community of care.
The Conversation Project was created and initiated as a gift to the Spirit of Humanity Forum, by David Cadman, a writer and a birthright Quaker with a background as an urban land economist. He has been a Visiting Professor at a number of Universities in England. He is interested in ways in which language and values shape our lives. David does not want to call himself an academic – just someone who has asked a lot of questions!