Let’s Talk, New York! A Sampling of Outstanding Conversations this month

Great Conversation is alive and well in NY.   Here’s a sampling from our  calendar of over 60 curated events offered by Conversations New York ( https://conversationsnewyork.com/calendar-of-conversations/ and http://www.meetup.com/Conversations-New-York/ ):

* Discuss outstanding books ranging from Lolita (1/15) to Dead Souls (1/14), to The Count of Monte Cristo (1/11).

* Celebrate MLK Day at BAM, and discuss the event afterwards with friends (1/19).

* Share your ideas and feelings about Love in a Socratic Conversation at Columbia University, as warm-up for Valentine’s Day (1/29).

* Meet interesting new people at brunch at the New York Ethical Society (1/18).

* Enjoy a Café Philo – the Parisian way of philosophical conversation (1/22).

* Experience the  Death Café, a popular approach to living more fully by confronting the reality of death (1/21).


LOVE! What Does It Mean to YOU? – Jan 29

LOVE! What Does It Mean to YOU?
Socratic Conversation with Ron Gross

January 29th, 4:00 – 5:15 PM

Teachers College, Columbia University,

525 W. 120th St., bet. Bdwy and Amsterdam (#1 train to 116th St.). 

RSVP to grossassoc@aol.com, and CNY Meetup

 Please bring a photo ID. Required for entry to building.


Not so sure? (That’s what Socrates would say.) Then maybe it’s time to think more deeply – together!

You’re not alone. “What is Love?” was the most-asked question on Google in 2014.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, let’s take a critical and creative look at our ideas about romance, commitment, relationships, and GULP marriage. The Hallmark holiday hoopla may be bogus — but the issues it exploits are life-shaping for each of us.

Come share your experiences and insights:

  • What does Love mean, to you?
  • How do you relate Love, Sexuality, and Romance?
  • Is Love different for men and for women (and for those who identify their
  • gender/sexuality in other ways)?
  • Is Love “natural” – or “socially-constructed”?
  • song from Fiddler on the Roof, “Do You Love Me?”)
  • Does the meaning of Love change with our life-circumstances such as age, cultural
  • heritage, profession, or family situation?
  • What have you learned about Loving wisely and well?
  • What role does Love play in teaching and learning? (e.g., fostering “love of learning”)


This Conversation will be informed by the presentation and discussion at the University Seminar on Emotional Intelligence with Professor Marc Brackett of Yale University, at the Library on Monday, January 26th, at 7 pm.

Want to enrich your own thinking with some powerful ideas, data, and experiences? Here’s a sampling of the enlightening readings on LOVE, starting with the portrayal of an exhilarating drinking party of Socrates and his friends discussing this question.

  • The Symposium, Plato
  • On Love, Jose Ortega y Gasset
  • Love 2.0, Barbara Fredrickson
  • About Love, Robert Solomon
  • Philosophies of Love, David L. Norton and Mary F. Kille
  • Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Why We Love, Helen Fisher
  • The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm
  • The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
  • I and Thou, Martin Buber

CNY Committee Meeting – Dec 19

CNY  Committee Meeting, Fri., Dec. 19th,  5:00, followed by gala Social Event nearby

MEET YOUR FELLOW CNY LEADERS!  CELEBRATE OUR 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENTS!  PLAN OUR  2015 INITIATIVES!   Youwill receive CNY‘s latest tips and tools to make Conversations exhilarating!   Your energy, imagination, and involvement are needed.  Where: Empire Szechuan Village,
173 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014
(between Perry St & S 7 Ave)
Phone: (212) 243-6046Who: Volunteer leaders of CNY — moderators, volunteers, advisors, contributors

When: Fri., Dec. 19, 5:00 – 6:45

RSVP at http://www.meetup.com/Conversations-New-York/events/219196949/


  1. Celebrate CNY‘s year of accomplishments
  2. Update on November conversations
  3. Recent Public Policy Conversation in partnership with the Interactivity Foundation (D.C.)
  4. Briefing on upcoming initiatives for 2015 including Conversation Day and others.
  5. Commitments to moderate, volunteer, contribute to the calendar, team up to implement projects, etc.
After this  celebration/work session, we’ll adjourn to join the gala event below at the nearby 49 Grove Club,  to contribute our distinctive CNY energy to this high-octane event!

Winter Solstice Party 2014

  • Friday, December 19, 2014

  • 49 Grove

    49 Grove St (btw Christopher St and 7th Ave), New York, NY(map)
  • Annual RNY Winter Solstice Party!
  • Join us for the Winter Solstice on Friday, Dec 19 at the upscale 49 Grove in the West Village.
    This annual event is hosted by Reasonable New York, a consortium of free-thinking, philosophical, and secular social clubs based in NYC and surrounding areas.
    Expect 100+ free-thinkers of all ages for an evening of food, drink, dancing, and socializing.
    Admission is free.
    Join us on the 19th and make new friends and connections with other inquisitive New Yorkers – this is an annual event not to be missed!

    $14 Specialty Cocktails for $7!
    $5 Beers
     Tapas Menu & Full Drink Bar Available – Please Tip Generously!
    Center for Inquiry – New York City
    Center for Inquiry – Long Island
    Dinner & Philosophy Now
    Ethical Humanist Society of L.I.
    Feminist Freethinkers of New York
    Gotham Atheists
    Humanist Society of Metro New York
    New York City Brights
    New York City Skeptics
    New York Philosophy
    New York Society for Ethical Culture
    Secular Coalition of New York
    Secular Humanist Society of New York

    Hope You Can Join Us!

Beyond Resilience and PTSD: Flexibility and Heterogeneity Following Potential Trauma – Dec 8

Beyond Resilience and PTSD: 

Flexibility and Heterogeneity Following Potential Trauma

Presenter: Prof. George A. Bonanno, Ph.D.

Columbia University

Monday, Dec. 8, 7-9  pm
Teachers College, 525 West 120th St.,
Room 305, Russell Hall
RSVP to by REPLY to this e-mail (grossassoc@aol.com
and http://www.meetup.com/Conversations-New-York/events/218998484/

Please bring photo ID for entry to building.


Most of us  are exposed to multiple potentially traumatic events (PTEs) during the course of our lives.  Such events are more common than is usually assumed.

Until recently, responses to such events have been understood using either psychopathological categories, such as PTSD, or measures of central tendency (e.g., average differences).

I demonstrate that although both approaches have been useful, neither approach captures the true heterogeneity of responses to aversive events. Recent advances in latent trajectory modeling following such events have identified prototypical trajectories of outcome, including chronic dysfunction and a resilient trajectory of stable health.

In this talk, I will describe studies from our research program that examine individual differences in response to demanding life events, including terrorist disaster, military combat, mass shooting, spinal cord injury, bio-epidemic, and cancer surgery. I will also describe our research on predictors of the resilience trajectory and place special emphasis on our recent research on flexibility in coping and emotion regulation as a resilience-promoting factor.

George A. Bonanno, Ph.D. is a Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Loss, Trauma, and Emotion Lab at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Professor Bonanno’s interests center on the question of how human beings cope with loss, trauma and other forms of extreme adversity, with an emphasis on resilience and the salutary role of flexible emotion regulatory processes. Professor Bonanno’s empirical and theoretical work has focused on defining and documenting resilience in the face of loss or potential traumatic events, including disaster, loss, terrorist attack, bio-epidemic, traumatic injury, and life-threatening injuries medical events, and on identifying the range of psychological and contextual variables that predict both psychopathological and resilient outcomes. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, and featured in various print, television, and radio media. He recently authored The Other Side of Sadness (Basic Books).

Websites:  Loss, Trauma, and Emotion Lab: http://www.tc.edu/LTElab/

The PURL II study: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/centers/PURLII/


Dinner: To augment the fellowship among members, you are warmly invited to join other members for dinner at Faculty House at 5:30 PM.  (After dinner we will walk to Teachers College, 10 minutes away).   Dinner at Faculty House, a varied and ample buffet (including wine), is $25, which must be paid for by check at the beginning of the meal.  If you intend to join us for dinner you must let us know via email a week in advance (by Monday, December  1.  RSVP to either Ron Gross (grossassoc@aolcom) or Michael Schulman (mdschlmn41@yahoo.com).

Directions to Faculty House:
  Faculty House is located on Columbia University’s East Campus on Morningside Drive and 117th Street.  Enter Wien Courtyard through the gates on the north side of 116 Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive. Walk toward the north end of the courtyard, then turn right toward Morningside Drive.  Faculty House will be the last building on the right.


The Seminars: This seminar is jointly sponsored by the Columbia University Seminars on Innovation in Education and Ethics, Moral Education, and Society.

The Seminar on Innovation in Education is chaired by Ronald Gross, who also conducts the Socratic Conversations at the Gottesman Libraries. Founded in 1970, the Seminar explores the process of learning in individuals, organizations, and society throughout the lifespan and via major institutions.

The Seminar on Ethics, Moral Education and Society, chaired by Michael Schulman,  brings together scholars from psychology, philosophy, sociology, political theory, education, religion and other disciplines to explore issues in ethics, moral education, moral development, moral motivation, moral decision making and related topics.


Future meetings for the 2014-2015 academic year: Jan. 26, Mar. 2, Apr. 13, May 4.


Columbia University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities.  University Seminar participants with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations or who have questions about physical access may contact the Office of Disability Services at 212-854-2388 or disability@columbia.edu.  Disability accommodations, including sign-language interpreters, are available on request.  Requests for accommodations must be made two weeks in advance.  On campus, seminar participants with disabilities should alert a Public Safety Officer that they need assistance accessing campus.


Michael Schulman, chair, Ethics, Moral Education, and Society, mdschlmn41@yahoo.com

Ron Gross, co-chair, Innovation in Education, grossassoc@aol.com

How Wise Are You? – Nov 20

How Wise Are You?
Socratic Conversation with Ron Gross
Thursday, November 20, 4-5:15 pm,

Celebrating World Philosophy Day (UNESCO)
Teachers College,Columbia University
525 West 120th St., Seminar Room 305, Russell Hall
There will be refreshments and a display of books on Wisdom.
Please bring photo ID for entry to the building.

Each year on the third Thursday in November, UNESCO invites friends of philosophy throughout the world to pursue “free, reasoned and informed thinking — thinking that works towards a better understanding of the world, promoting tolerance and peace.”

In response to that challenge, this session of the Socratic Conversations will examine ten behaviors associated with thinking and acting wisely, drawn from our world wisdom traditions and from scientific research on the subject.

Please come to share your ideas, experiences, and…wisdom! Among the topics we’ll discuss are:

  • How Do You Define Wisdom?
  • Who is Wise? How Can You Tell?
  • Is Wisdom Individual, or Collective?
  • Can Wisdom Be Taught? – or Learned?
  • Are you getting wiser?
  • If so, how? If not, why not?
  • Does Wisdom make us happier?
  • Does American culture value it?

This Conversation will be followed up by several sessions of the University Seminar which meets monthly, including sessions with Mark Brackett, of Yale University, on Emotional Intelligence (January 26th); George Bonanno, of Teachers College, Columbia University, on Resilience after Traumatic Loss ( December 8th) and Ursala Staudinger, of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, on Wisdom(March).


Halloween for Thinkers: Let’s Talk Back to Death — by Affirming Life!

Halloween for Thinkers: Let’s Talk Back to Death — by Affirming Life!

with Ron Gross


Thursday, Oct. 30, 4:00 SHARP – 5:15 pm

Teachers College, Columbia University

525 West 120th Street  (bet. Broadway and Amsterdam Ave. – 116th St. stop on the #1 train)

Room 305 Russell Hall


RSVP to grossassoc@aol.com — space is limited

and CNY Meetup http://www.meetup.com/Conversations-New-York/events/210285442/


Please bring photo ID required for entry to building, and plan to arrive by 3:45 to be courteous to fellow participants.


Halloween is a holiday that makes fun of Death. At this Conversation, we’ll be inspired by death-defying mentors from Socrates to Woody Allen.  Let’s use wit, thoughtfulness, and conviviality to deal with the Grim Reaper!   (Costumes are Welcome but optional.)


Please join us to share your  convictions, feelings, and hopes.  We’ll be in good company: thousands of  Americans are attending Death Cafes, Death Dinners, and Death Salons (featured on the front page of The New York Times). A Showtime documentary series, Time of Death, focuses on “real people face to face with their own mortality.” An acclaimed recent book, The Death Class: A True Story About Life, reports that there’s a 3-year waiting list to enroll in this offering at Kean University in New Jersey; a similar on-line course, by Professor Shelly Kagan, is available from Yale University.


We are learning to talk about death more freely, frankly — and life-affirmingly! Come join the movement to demystify this taboo subject. It can be a significant step in learning how to live.


Among the topics we’ll discuss are:


  • Does your awareness of your mortality affect the way you are living your life? Should it? How?


  • What is one of your favorite novels, movies, TV shows, plays, musical works, or other art that deals with Death?


  • What happens after death? Do you feel that you are still somehow in contact with anyone you have lost?

  • Do you feel that you’ve thought enough about mortality, to sort out your ideas and feelings in ways that are satisfying to you?


  • Do you have any strong convictions about what you would like to happen at the end of your life? Should we have The Pill?


CNY Members please note:  This conversation will be followed at 5:45 by the monthly meeting of the CNY Steering Committee, which you are warmly welcome to join!


“Double-Header”! Conversation + CNY Meeting – Sep 18

“Double-Header”! Conversation + CNY Meeting, 9/18, 4:00 – 7:00, Columbia University

Conversation on Your Values, with Ron Gross,

using video dramatizations, 4:00 – 5:15,


CNY Meeting to plan pre-Halloween city-wide conversations on

“Would It Kill You to Spend An Hour Talking About Death?”


Thurs., September 18th

Teachers College, Columbia University

Gottesman Libraries

525 W. 120th, Room 104b


RSVP to grossassoc@aol.com

and Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/Conversations-New-York/events/204369892/

The Conversation – 4:00 – 5:15

Lights! Camera!! Values!!?:

How Is Your Character Shaped by the TV, Movies, and Other Media You See?

Socratic Conversation with Ron Gross

Have your values been effected by portrayals of good and bad behavior which you’ve experienced via TV

dramas, movies, and theater?

At this Conversation we’ll view a stunning array of one-minute real-life incidents designed to inspire us to

practice major virtues like Honesty, Grit, Civility, and Commitment.

Do you feel that your ideals are strengthened when you see such enactments in the media?

Please come to share your experiences with the ways in which inspiring stories, images, and words have

shaped your character.

Conversations New York Meeting – 5:30 – 7:00

We will celebrate the success of our CONVERSATION DAY on 8/30 in Bryant Park, welcome your ideas and suggestions, and organize for our next initiative, below.


October, 2014

Would It Kill You to Spend an Hour Talking About Death? is the rallying cry for a city-wide series of

conversations to occur this October, during the period leading up to Halloween, promoted by Conversations

New York (www.conversationsnewyork.com).

These free, open-to-all Conversations will be held in public spaces and places throughout the five boroughs,

including parks, churches, campuses, business building ground-floor atriums such as CityCorp at 53rd

and Lexington Avenue, and upstairs eating rooms of fast food restaurants such as those opposite Penn Station

on 6th Avenue and 33rd Street.  How-To at the website.  Anyone can self-organize their own conversation on this topic by using the easy

Organizations and institutions which are hosting conversations on the subject of Death during that period

include the New York Society for Ethical Culture, The Open Center, Trinity Church, and the Death Café of NY

which has been featured on the front page of The New York Times.

A culminating conversation will be held at Columbia University on the day before the holiday, Thursday, Oct. 30th, at 4:00 pm, hosted by Ronald Gross, founder/director of CNY.

“These conversations are celebrations of life,” says Gross, author of Socrates’ Way and other books. “They are

inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s dictum: ‘Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life.’”

The sponsor of Conversation vs. Death is Conversations New York (www.conversationsnewyork.com), a non-

profit which earlier this year held a symposium on The Power of Conversation at Columbia University, and

organized a Conversation Day celebration in Bryant Park on August 30th


Ronald Gross, grossassoc@aol.com; http://www.conversationsnewyork.com.