World Cafe is a participative process which enables people to have creative conversations while sitting cafe-style around small tables. Paper table cloths are often used so that the ideas and issues which emerge from the conversations can be recorded. After about 20-30 minutes, people move to a new table and the conversation continues. One member of the initial group will remain at the table to host the new conversation and help to build links between the different strands. Three rounds are usual.
The Principles of World Cafe
World Cafe was developed by Juanita Brown and an account of its development can be found on her website. Indeed, the World Cafe site is the best place to start; it's full of resources and gives you pretty much all you need to know. Resources include a 6-page guide to running a World Cafe, is available free.
A longer, 28 page booklet, The World Cafe: A Resource Guide for Hosting Conversations That Matter by Juanita Brown and The World Cafe Community, illustrated by Nancy Margulies, is available from Pegasus Communications. Pegasus also publishes Juanita's doctoral dissertation in which she tells of the development of the World Cafe approach.
See also Juanita Brown and David Isaac's, The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter, Berrett-Koehler, 2005.
The World Cafe website has lots of stories about people who have used World Cafe. Others include:
Maricopa County Community College, who used World Cafe for its Ocotillo Conference in 2002.
Earth Charter in Philadelphia who convened a World Cafe so that people could have 'conversations that matter'.
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nference in 2002.