The Community Café practice uses the Appreciative Inquiry process to listen, plan, grow and sustain vitality to work that strengthens families. This process allows for time to people to contribute their personal stories as a way of growing collective wisdom. We would like to invite you to contribute your own stories to our blog so others can learn from your experience. People are interested in learning different purposes for using the approach, hosting cafés, the questions you used, who and how many attended, and what you are doing with your café harvests. Has the collective wisdom from cafés been able to influence agency policy or practice or even impact local or state policy for instance? Pictures of café gatherings can also be posted on this blog. We hope you will contribute to our collective wisdom!

In their own words…

Joy Lile (Lacey, WA)

When I began helping to coordinate and host Cafes, I really didn’t know what I was getting into. Fresh out of college and an AmeriCorps volunteer, I was ready for everything but not really prepared for anything. Community Cafes were my first real experience with parents and talking one-on-one about the values, strengths and needs of families.

I remember one parent in particular because I had a specific impression of her when we first began working together. (I have learned that it is not easy to dethatch from first impressions but helpful to recognize and analyze them throughout my interactions with individuals.) She was a young single mother, staying at a homeless shelter with her child. I found that my assumptions were totally misguided as we talked, and we actually shared many deep-seeded beliefs about child rearing and the value of respecting and praising children, and on the nature of un-conditional love. The conversations were very powerful and I think that I may have done more learning and self-evaluation in the process than most of the parents.

I have learned so much through working with the Cafes, both in the theory of family and parenting models, and in the practice of deep listening and discovering and developing my inner leadership capabilities. I look forward to continuing and deepening my relationship with the Leadership Team and with the families of Thurston County!

En sus propias palabras…

Rosario García (Olympia, WA)

Los Cafés Comunitarios han contribuido mucho en mi vida, pues me ha permitido aprender a liderar mi propia persona. Cuando llegue a Olympia desde Lima, Perú, estaba totalmente desorientada. No conocía a nadie. Tenía el problema del idioma, mi lengua natal es el español y tenía poco conocimiento del inglés. Un día conocí a Maricela Sánchez, quien me invito al Café de Familias Latinas, una organización que trata de agrupar con mucho afecto a las familias hispanas. Asistí y vi que la reunión se desarrollo en medio de gran hospitalidad. Había comida al entrar y todo era gratis. Parecía una celebración, una fiesta, pero además se compartía una conversación que incluía a todos, totalmente participativa. Me impresiono, pues todos podíamos opinar y todas las opiniones eran bienvenidas y no había discusiones.

Luego, asistí a otros Cafés y los temas iban cambiando en torno a los 5 Factores protectores que todo niño necesita para poder ser feliz en su comunidad. Todo lo cual apuntaba a seguir aprendiendo sobre cómo desarrollar el Fortalecimiento de las Familias, lo que incidía en que los padres debemos de aprender mucho para poder darles con nuestro ejemplo lo mejor de nosotros a nuestros hijos y ayudarlos a socializar dentro de la comunidad. Dentro de las tantas preguntas que he escuchado, hay una que se quedo para siempre en mi, ¿Que debemos de hacer juntos que solos no podemos?- No estamos solos, somos seres totalmente sociales y eso significa que debemos edificar juntos buenas relaciones basadas en el respeto mutuo para seguir creciendo como comunidad.

Para concluir con mi historia, quiero decir que he aprendido lo siguiente: sentirme que soy una persona invalorable al igual que lo son las demás, a respetar mucho los pensamientos de los demás, a compartir y participar a mi familia, amigos en esta práctica de conversaciones. El propósito de CC es maravilloso y lo comparto con mucho cariño a todas las personas que pueda hacerlo. ¡Así que, ven y disfruta también de estas conversaciones de Café.

Jessie (Georgia)

Jessie and other volunteers are hosting cafés called Community Clubs in Georgia. They began last summer to address the food shortage due to the loss of the neighborhood summer lunch program and the lack of potable water in their community. They received a $500 grant from the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds. The $500 grant fed kids a hot breakfast and lunch and meals for the adult Community Club meetings thanks to volunteers and creative resource gathering. Parents reported it being the best summer lunch “program” ever! Parents and community members continue Community Clubs to focus on what’s possible. Their Community Clubs are hosted at the park. Food, clothing and school supplies are also distributed at these gatherings because as others hear about their work contributions come in. Their conversations have focused on “What does a great community look like? What can we accomplish together? What skills do we have to offer? Who is willing to help?” They have committed to helping each other repair homes in most need.

Welcome to Reweaving the Social Fabric

One thought on “Welcome to Reweaving the Social Fabric

  • March 13, 2019 at 9:39 pm

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