Jul 01


Dinner And Nifty Conversations

Brunch Friends Amazing Conversations

Overview | The Dinner | The Conversation | The Topics | The Shift | An Invitation

In the Summer of 2002 I started a new tradition. I started forming a conversation circle at my home on a weekly basis. I call it Dinner And Nifty Conversation D.A.N.C. It is an opportunity to connect and share with a community of friends and strangers to talk about what really matters to us. The format lends itself to deep levels of conversation and an equity in participation that isn’t forced but comes naturally in this safe environment.

D.A.N.C. was modeled on my friend Kelly Hansen’s weekly gatherings mixed with the conversation circle model presented to me through Margaret Wheatley’s Turning To One Another and the Thought Leader Gathering group in the Twin Cities.

The Dinner

We gather on Wednesdays at around 6:30 to start D.A.N.C. The first hour is used to detox from the day, drink a little wine, small talk, grab bite of homemade pizza, risotto, or something else easy to cook. Around 7:30 when everyone is settled and filled we shift into part two of the evening – The Conversation.

The Conversation

We literally sit around in a circle in order for everyone to clearly see everyone else. I create a circle of candles and light them one by one to focus everyone on the center of the circle. That which is at the center is referred to as “the beauty” and provides a place to focus our thoughts and remember why we are here; to share and think together. You see, “conversation is the natural way humans think together” – M.Wheatley.

This conversation is not like any other that most people have had. As such, there are some general guidelines which facilitate its movement. In this circle of conversation the questions are often more important than the answers. Reflective thinking is the outcome. Curiosity is the instrument. It is not about what you know, but rather, what you want to know and what we (the circle of friends) want to know. In this circle it is essential that we see each other as equals, if not, we break down into dialogue and monologues.

We open the circle with the lighting of the candles. A moment of silence or an opening quote follows. Then we pass around a song pod (its a metal rock which chimes as it spins – it our form of a talking stick). One of the guidelines is that while someone has the pod in their possession only they are allowed to speak. All others listen.

The first round of passing the pod is to say hello and let the circle know where you are right now in three words ( ie. open, tired, excited, nervous, happy etc.). The next round is to throw out to the group – what would you like to know or explore today. During both of these passes there is no cross talk (no responding to, critiquing, nor direct inquiry of another member of the circle).

The Topics

Here is where the fun begins and democracy kicks in. We as a group select a topic. Often people are on the same thought pattern which makes this easy and flow smoothly. Other times it is messy and we choose the one which has the most attraction from the group. The topic is phrased in a question. Past Topics have been –

Am I becoming someone I respect?
What is Friendship?
What is Love?

What is war?
Do Have A Vocation To Be Fully Human?

The Shift

By maintaining a sense of curiosity the conversation evolves in interesting directions and deeper insight is gained. Often the question someone asks contains the answer they are seeking. Other times the interpretation of the question shifts the path that the conversation takes. The pod/talking stick is passed until it is no longer needed and the questions hop around and across the circle.

After an hour and a half of fun, deep insight, and connecting on a personal level we close the gathering with a checkout. We pass the song pod one more time – What are individuals taking away from the experience? Usually the shifts in awareness and attitude are deep and wide.


I would like to open the invitation to anyone who lives in the Twin Cities or is coming to visit to join us for D.A.N.C. – drop me a line and I’ll send you information.

If you are interested in learning more or starting your own circle, give me a call 773-245-3594 and we can explore together.

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