Conversation cafés occurred after the concurrent sessions on Friday and Saturday (June 10 and 11) to provide an opportunity for attendees to sit down together around the guiding questions. The café used a modified World Café format. The café was facilitated by Jennifer Ball, Rod Friesen, Paul Stucky and Esther Epp-Tiessen.
As the café team observed, this was the one place where there was purposeful conversation on the questions. Concurrent sessions involved presentations with Q & A opportunities but this was the one session that allowed for people to interact directly with each other and offer their experience, insights, and wisdom.
On the first day there were nine tables of six, and the second day there were seven tables of six. For the organizers, it became clear that what was most important was the actual discussions and less the outcomes that we could report back. It was about creating a space for rich conversations where there could be exchanges and cross fertilization of knowledge, experiences, and ideas.
It was at times hard to draw people out of their own conversations into these conversations. The cafés were, however, our attempt to tap into the wonderful conversations people were already having with each other throughout the conference.
Each of the tables doodled as they talked, and the café team typed up the notes and created the following wordles (word doodles) to capture the conversations over the two days in response to the five questions.
What, for you, defines Anabaptist peacebuilding? What makes it distinctive?
What have we as Anabaptist Mennonites done well in peacebuilding over the years? Or, what do we do well?
What issues do Anabaptist Mennonites wrestle with in building peace? What have we failed and done wrong? What needs improvement or isn’t being done?
What has changed over time? In our approach? As a result of our peacebuilding? In our theology of building peace?
Where are we going as we look to the future? (practices, theologies, histories)
Images of the responses to all of the questions combined in Spanish and English:
For those interested in the café model, there are lots of resources available at the global café website.