Vicki Robin (6 July 1945) is an American writer and advocate of "simple living," who is best known for her best-selling book, co-authored with Joe Dominguez, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence. Her most recent work, Blessing the Hands That Feed Us: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us About Food, Community, and Our Place on Earth was published in January 2014. It is based on her own experience taking the locavore movement to heart, when, for one month, she ate only food sourced within a 10-mile radius of her home on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Washington.
Conversation Café is an international movement, started by author Vicki Robin fostering coffee house meetings on a regular basis for interesting communication about relevant issues amongst strangers in the Socratic tradition of respectful dialogue. Conversation Cafes started in Seattle after 9/11. The meetings are designed with the minimal structure necessary to sustain relevant conversations and include criteria for what's make a good question, including: Open, Inviting, Honest, Experiential, Inclusive, Generative, and Relevant.
In reflecting on the next steps I might apply myself to beyond promoting a shift in personal consumption patterns, I realized that my core message really wasn't 'Spend less' but was 'Reflect on what you spend in light of your values.' The Conversation Café project addresses the need to increase social intelligence, to build social capital and generate the social engagement so we can actually HAVE a wise democracy. I am doing this by building a network of Cafés where people can have weekly drop-in dialogues about the key inner and outer issues of our times. These Conversation Cafés are about free speech. Not as something that can be taken away in an era of repression, but as something one strengthens through self expression in the presence of those who do not agree.
Free speech is our birthright. Repressive societies can change the consequences of speaking, but they do not govern our souls. I envision a culture of conversation — a culture where people talk freely — without fear or taboos — with friends and strangers alike. I once asked a Dane how Denmark had resisted the pressures of globalization. He said two words: study circles. Most Danes throughout their adult lives have the habit of conversation about things that matter in small groups. We can do that here. In cafés. In Britain in the 1700s the government shut down the cafés where people met to discuss politics because they were sites of revolutionary thinking. Here, we get our news from the TV, retreat into private sub-cultures through online chats and interact only with people who see the world as we do. This is a formula for weakening society enough to allow forces of repression to take over. Conversation Cafés are an attempt to reverse the trend.
--Vicki Robin, the New Road Map Foundation
Other deliberative groups, including The World Cafe, have similar concepts.