World (Rural) Café

The World Café process is designed to raise and exchange ideas in small and large groups of people simply and effectively.

A facilitator will inform everyone at the outset of two or three Focus Questions which each table group will discuss.

For smaller table groups, people gather in groups of three or ideally four—no more—for intimate conversations. People can choose their own groups It’s best if ask they intentionally choose others who are different from themselves—that is, those of a different age, who may have different attitudes/opinions, have a different level of experience with the group assembled, and so on.

Take 12-15 minutes to allow each person to introduce themselves briefly and share her or his response to each of the Focus Questions. One person will volunteer to be the designated recorder at the beginning and be the host of that table. She or he will take brief notes of the responses to the Focus Questions during that time.

At the end of the 15 minutes, the recorder/scribe and host will stay in each group where he or she is seated, while the other two or three will move to another group, not necessarily all going to the same next table.

The table hosts welcome the new people and briefly recap some of the salient comments or observations from the previous table conversation that had just met—in response to the Focus Questions. (The recorder and host does not have to summarize all that was said, just some of the observations or comments that stood out.)

Not unlike Musical Chairs, the World Café then asks that everyone excepting the table recorder and host to leave and join another table group. The same conversation format is repeated and table groups are rotated at least three or four times, using the same Focus Questions. At the very end of the Café process, each person designated as the table recorder and host reports anonymously their summary notes and reflections based on the Focus Questions, with the full group that reconvenes.

Those comments will be noted and transcribed on a flip chart or similar object, so that everyone can view the comments and observations, with no names attached or mentioned by the recorders in their reporting. There may be repetition in the content, but that is noteworthy in itself. The facilitator can then engage the plenary group in discussing their responses to some of the data collected in the World Café process, noting which may warrant further attention and discussion.

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