What is Food for Thought: Breaking Bread, Building Bridges?
The Food for Thought signature program is a short series of conversations among people from a variety of backgrounds and experience shared over dinner! Topics which tend to generate a variety of opinions are discussed with the support of ground rules and a neutral facilitator.
What is the goal of Food for Thought?
Civil discourse with respectful, curious, non-judgmental conversation is the goal; however, there will be other outcomes such as delicious food, new insights, and friendship.
How does Food for Thought work?
Twice a year groups commit to meeting 5 times in the following 6 months to engage in respectful dialogue. All groups meet for the initial kickoff event that allows participants to introduce themselves, to agree to ground rules, and to select discussion topics.
At the end of the 6-month commitment groups can continue meeting without assigned facilitators or they can disband or join a new group.
Wasn’t there an earlier version of this program back in the 90’s?
Yes, in 1992 in response to the passage of Amendment 2, Dialog Dinners were introduced by Citizens Project. This successful program lasted over 10 years. Several groups continued meeting and there is at least one group that still meets.
Who can participate in Food for Thought?
Anyone who is genuinely interested in other people’s opinions, beliefs, and experiences is welcome to participate. Food for Thought is a forum for understanding with an emphasis on learning and listening. The objective is to get to know each other, rather than try to change each other.
How are the groups selected?
A survey is completed by each individual. Groups of approximately 15 are formed using the survey data with the aim of building diversity and a creative mix of ideas in the group. Couples or friends can elect to be in the same group.
Why are facilitators a part of the program?
Trained facilitators are the key to the success of small group dialogues. The facilitator guides the discussion, does not share his or her opinions (remains neutral), and sets a relaxed and welcoming tone where people feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions.
What ground rules are used by the program to encourage successful discussions?
- Everyone gets a fair hearing.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Share “air time”.
- If you are offended or uncomfortable, say so, and say why.
- It’s OK to disagree, but don’t personalize it; stick to the issue.
- Speak for yourself, not for others.
- One person speaks at a time.
- Personal stories stay in the group, unless we all agree that we can share them.
- We share responsibility for making the conversation productive
What are my obligations if I sign up?
If you choose to participate in the program, you agree to meet for a meal with your group 5 times in the following 6 months. Each group chooses the dates they will meet. Typically the dinners are pot luck and usually occur in the homes of group members who volunteer to host, but these details are decided by the group. You agree to follow the ground rules and to engage in the experience.
What topics do the groups discuss?
Each group chooses their topics. There will be topic suggestions on subjects such as immigration, gun control, drug legalization, poverty, prejudice/discrimination, role of government/role of citizen, etc. The group also participates in “Film for Thought” by choosing a documentary to view and discuss at one of he meetings.
If you are interested in participating in these discussions we invite you to complete a registration form, which will provide us with the information to build groups representing a dynamic cross-section of our community.
*While we cannot guarantee placement for every person who registers for a launch of new dialogue groups, we will make every effort to place you in the next session.