Hundreds of New Yorkers coming together in small groups of neighbors
and fellow citizens to discuss topics of intensive interest…
Hosted at no cost and at convenient locations and times…
Aided by simple guiding principles…
Inspired by the city’s grand tradition of robust conversation…
Our vision is to inspire, organize, publicize, facilitate and celebrate
a renaissance of healthy dialogue in New York City.
Conversations New York (CNY) has been created to fulfill this vision. Our goal is more and better conversations for all New Yorkers.
What We Do: CNY finds, publicizes, and creates conversations everywhere in the city, and posts them on an informative Calendar. We also offer resources for conversation moderators and participants who want to convene conversations and conduct them effectively.
What CNY Users Are Saying:
- “New York and New Yorkers need this — it’s a Big City, and we need small groups to make it humane.”
- “This is the answer to the crazy preoccupation with our connectivity devices – hurrah for the return of human faces, human voices!”
- “Really spiffy site and so stimulating to scan the calendar — I found two I’ve put on my schedule!”
- “I will definitely be in touch when I get back from Europe in May — I want to benefit from and help with this.”
- “CNY is going to be a catalyst for many conversations – I like the way this can work anywhere in town.”
What CNY Can Do for You: If you’re interested in finding a conversation that appeals to you, please access our website http://www.conversationsnewyork.com. It provides information from sponsor(s), on topics, locations, times, and ground rules.
In choosing events to list, CNY seeks conversations that are offered:
- at no cost or nominal cost,*
- at various times throughout the week and day.
- in convenient and convivial venues (not too noisy for comfortable conversation)
- easily reachable by public transportation, and handicapped accessible
* Please note that some venues require a fee and/or a meal or beverage purchase. If such is the case, it will be noted on the event listing.
We encourage sponsors to offer an online space so that participants can continue the conversation on-line, for comments and evaluations, including links to relevant articles, books, or videos.
Recent topics of conversations offered via the website were:
- “Is technology making us smarter or stupider?”
- “What is happiness?”
- “Laughing matters: the role of humor in our lives!”
- “What did we learn from The Storm?”
- “Can we stop wars?”
- “Are women in charge now?”
- “Are we a democracy?”
- “How important is willpower?”
- “What is your heritage contributing to NYC?”
Our Tradition and Philosophy: CNY has its roots in the social, cultural, and political life of New Yorkers. Our primary function is to serve as a way for people to announce conversations they are offering, or to find conversations they would like to join.
But we are inspired by great conversational cultures dating back to Socrates’ Athens, through the European salons of the 18th and 19th centuries, through the coffee houses in colonial America in which the revolution was hatched, to Gertrude Stein’s living room in Greenwich Village in the 1920s. And we are buoyed by currently thriving models throughout the world ranging from the Parisian Café Philos to the community-wide network of Philosophers’ Cafes in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Who We Are: CNY is staffed by a voluntary steering committee, all working pro bono – and welcoming new members! We are professionals in marketing, IT, strategy, development, graphic design, small-group facilitation, networking, and editorial. We share a belief that conversation is a necessary and valuable part of our culture. While we embrace technology, we wish to ensure that as communication technology grows exponentially, so too, do our options for face-to-face communication.
The Founder/Director of CNY is Ronald Gross, co-chair of the University Seminar on Innovation in Education at ColumbiaUniversity, and the recipient of the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Self-Directed Learning. Ron currently conducts the longest-running ongoing community conversation in the U.S, as well as Socratic Conversations on the Columbia campus and elsewhere in the city (http://www.SocratesWay.com/join.html). His 20 books include The Lifelong Learner, Peak Learning, and Socrates’ Way.
To benefit from the best that is being thought and done in the field, CNY is strengthened by an international Advisory Committee of practitioners, thinkers, authors, and scholars in the field.
CNY partners with existing organizations that facilitate conversations. These include Meetup groups, campus-based forums, and other ongoing discussion groups.
Our Future Goals: We currently identify, publicize, and promote conversations throughout the city, and produce a few under our own aegis.
As opportunities and resources become available, we will create more of our own CNY-sponsored events.
We are also developing innovative ways to encourage better conversations. Two examples are: “Talk Abouts” – conversations among play-goers after the curtain goes down, to enhance enjoyment of theater, inspired by the popularity of “Talk Backs” but more egalitarian and participatory; and on-line forums to enable participants to share their experiences, pro and con, with others — perhaps leading to a kind of Zagat’s for Conversations.
Throughout, we will have our activities monitored by independent evaluators, to foster continual improvement in our goals and objectives, policies and procedures, and future plans.
Eventually, when we’ve fine-tuned and demonstrated the potential of this “model”, we will seek support to offer our expertise to other social innovators who wish to establish their own CNY-type organization in other cities. To help facilitate that, we envisage creating a handbook that synthesizes CNY’S methodology and experiences.
What You Can Do Now:
- Follow CNY at http://www.conversationsnewyork.com.
- Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/conversationsnewyork.
- Find us at MeetUP at http://www.meetup.com/Conversations-New-York/
Want to Join the CNY team?: We have opportunities for professionals with relevant skills to contribute pro bono to the development of CNY in several important areas:
- Media Relations/Social Networking
- Venue-finding and Evaluation
We are also seeking organizational partners and funding, from public and private agencies who share our interest in fostering a richer cultural life in NYC.
We are always open to constructive feedback regarding our calendar, events, and social mediate sites. CNY appreciates all constructive comments and suggestions as to how we may improve our organization.
For more information, to volunteer, or to donate, please contact CNY via Ron Gross at email@example.com.