FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Here are some questions people who are already hosting Community Cafés are exploring:

  • What possibilities will emerge as a result of powerful questions that provide a respectful stage for the sharing of stories and perspectives?
  • How will participants build the trust that is needed in order to achieve the accountability that transforms a community and what will they need in order to build that trust?
  • What if we assumed that every community has the wisdom and resources it needed to design the best plan of action for themselves? 
  • What would emerge if instead of trying to solve a problem we looked as what was possible based on the strengths of each person involved and their community?
  • What would happen if each person and community acted like they were responsible for the current state of their own living system and that as a group they would have the wisdom to know what work needed to be done and the resources to do it?

Here are some questions we often hear from people who are thinking of hosting cafés:

Why is it called Community Café?

The Community Café practice of using meaningful conversation for transformative change is based on the World Café technology. (www.theworldcafe.org) Very few of our café gatherings are called Community Cafés. Each community adopts a name that means something to them.

Is Community Café a good fit for my work?

The Community Café practice is a helpful approach for anyone who wants an effective and efficient method of gathering and disseminating knowledge that relates to strengthening families.

What are typical agencies or organizational partners in implementing cafés?

Organizational partners who have helped the Community Cafes to thrive in their states and communities include state Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems, early childhood programs, health organizations, community based prevention boards, Child Care Resource and Referral programs, AmeriCorps, United Way, prevention agencies or programs, schools, faith based institutions, businesses and family support centers. Any organization committed to helping families grow stronger is a potential partner.

How much do cafés cost?

Many cafés are not formally funded at all and leverage the resources already in a community. A café can be hosted as a potluck in the park for instance. Most cafés have been started by small seed grants ranging from $300 to $2000 for a series of gatherings and eventually find local community partners and resources to help sustain them after the initial seed grant. If funds are provided for a café they usually support groceries for volunteer cooks, child care, mileage and a gratitude gift or stipend for the hosts.

Is this right for my organization?

Community Café is an approach that sparks leadership to build the relationships necessary to strengthen families. You may or may not end up hosting gatherings in a community but you are willing to partner with parents and/or community to host meaningful conversations as a practice for improving the work you are already doing.

Has this been tried in diverse communities?

Community Cafés are as diverse as the communities where they are hosted. Hosts integrate culturally relevant food, traditions, music, art and poetry and to ensure cultural relevancy and sensitivity, typically live in the community and already have associations with the people who attend. Moreover, cafés use powerful questions that focus on co-creating new culture together as a group and honoring and making more distinctive our own family culture. This work is led by a diverse group of volunteers.

What are some common results cafes generate?

People report developing relationships that strengthen families, an increased knowledge about resources, becoming more connected to their community, have more opportunity to contribute, and feel more confident assuming leadership roles. Community members mentor each other to form webs of support for every family. Organizations report policy changes, more parents volunteering, participating, an increase in the diversity of parents involved and an increased value and use of meaningful conversations in getting work done and stronger partnerships with parents.

How do I get parents to come or get them more involved?

Relying on parent volunteers from the community helps to ensure that all cafes are hosted with sensitivity to local culture, norms, needs and the best time to host a gathering. Parent volunteers have a network of local contacts and are frequently asked to help begin this process because they possess the local knowledge needed to help create a compelling invitation that will appeal to the constituency in the area.

How do you know this works?

People vote with their feet. If a café is welcoming, culturally relevant and useful, people continue to participate and contribute and tell their family and friends about it.

Where do cafés take place?

Cafés typically occur in schools, early learning centers, parks, churches, public agencies, libraries, living rooms, or any other no-cost space.

How do I learn to host café?

Contact us at communitycafe@gmail.com and someone will work with you directly.

What kind of support is available?

Those of us who host Community Cafés are considered part of a learning community. Many of us work willingly to support others who are also hosting and learning. We provide support via email, phone, visits and group orientations.