Conversations: Cafes and Workshops

We come alive in conversation. Detailed here and on the side bar are conversations I host and workshops I run.

Cafe Conversations:

I have a passion for life : travel, culture, society in all flavours. I get a great kick out of running Saturday afternoon philosophical cafe conversations,on themes that capture my interest and extend learning of the simple and complex art of what it means to be human

These conversations are intended to provide an opportunity for people to share their lived experiences of the theme under discussion; as such they are not intended to  provide academic or theoretical input; rather they offer those attending a place and space to give and receive insights on their own ideas and experiences which have shaped their lives. Each conversation takes place on a saturday afternoon and are held in London

October 2010: Travel and the Meaningful Life

An exploration of the concept of travel and its place in generating meaning in our lives

February 2011: Exploring the legacy of ancestry

A conversation on the role of ancestry in today's world and what we might learn about ourselves from a clearer understanding of our ancestry

May 2011: The Alchemy of Friendship

An exploration of friendship; what we mean by friendship and its role in our lives

October 2011: Existential Eating and Drinking

You are what you eat. How our habits and attitudes towards our approach to looking after our stomach have been formed, and what they say about us

March 2012: Engaging with Spirituality

How does the spiritual show up in the lives we lead – at work, at home, in our sense of past, present and future? According to some recent research spirituality is a topic that people often hesitate to talk to others about for fear of how they might be judged. An exploration of what being spiritual might mean to us, and how our perceptions of spirituality in ourselves and in our society may or may not have changed during the course of our lives.

May 2012: The Gifts of Imperfection

A conversation on the work of Brene Brown and her insights into vulnerability as a source of realness and authenticity in relationships

May 2013: Heroes and the Heroic

This conversation considers the concept of heroes and the place of the heroic in our everyday lives. What leads us to define someone as a hero or heroine in our own personal mythology? What purpose does it serve us, personally, and societally, to foster and create heroes? And who do we like to bestow such a label upon?

October 2013: Encountering Class

" each class has its own sustaining network of styles, it's stances, it's codes, it's received wisdom, and, even more, it's received prejudices" ......class distinctions do not die: they merely learn new ways of expressing themselves" - George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier. So how has class shown up in our lives? To what extent are we influenced by issues of class in the way we live our lives? How has class been an issue for us? How might we observe class consciousness present in our own worlds - in what we do for a living, where we live, in where and how we go in holiday, in how we were brought up, in what supermarket we use, on what we wear, or how we speak? Or how we vote? The concept of class is clearly not just about changes in socio economic conditions: it is also about our beliefs about ourselves, and our beliefs about others, about the similarities and differences between us. And how we recognise them.

April 2014: A Crisis of Conversation?

Recently a friend told me of her experience of travelling in Vietnam on a group tour. Despite being in such a vibrant and wonderful country, her experience was undoubtedly lessened by her observation that her fellow travellers were unwilling to risk a conversation that strayed outside the safe boundaries of the hotel food, the rate of exchange and the quality of the hotels. I have had a similar experience where it seems almost dangerous to risk a powerful conversation based on enquiry and to stick instead with the familiar, based on the mundane. Its as if to step outside of the increasingly boundaried notion of conversation risks something fundamental in our sense of who we are that we are just not prepared to take

November 2014: On Being a Man

In the UK the theme of healthy (and unhealthy) male psychology has received much attention lately. In June, the first ever Male Psychology conference was held, which highlighted the failings of the British health services in responding to a depressingly increased occurrence of suicide amongst men (3 out of 4 of every reported suicide). Taken together with the phenomenally high percentages that men form of the UK prison population, of kids expelled from schools, of drug related deaths, of performance statistics in schools, it doesn't take much to acknowledge that the male gender's psychological health is in trouble. This conversation is an enquiry. An enquiry into our experiences of the perceptions we encounter of manhood: Of our own (where appropriate!), of others, of the shifts and changes in those perceptions as we have journeyed to where we are now, whatever our gender.

This conversation is an invitation to all present, men and women, to explore their own social, cultural and professional experiences of what it means to be a man in today's world. In particular, to enquire into the following:

- what has historically shaped our own perception of manhood, what a man does, who a man is? What were the stories we learnt as kids growing up that spoke to this?
- how have those perceptions shifted over time? Or differed or contradicted themselves?
- What is our sense of the challenges men face in being men in today's professional world? Do we share the same perceptions that see men as still fundamentally competitive and in control
- how are those perceptions maintained?
- and where we are aware of successful initiatives to tackle and develop improved levels of male psychological health, what are they and what is about the initiative that works?