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Democracy Café
A Fresh Taste of Philosophy and Politics
Category: Society & Culture
Location: SocratesCafe.com
Followers (14)
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I'm the founder of Socrates Cafe -- see SocratesCafe.com -- and a noted author (Socrates Cafe: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy, The...

by Christopher...
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February 01, 2018 01:17 PM PST

Odin Halvorson is the epitome of an enlightened generalist -- open, honest, impassioned, curious, imbued with social and politic conscience, civically involved and dedicated to bringing together diverse Americans. Odin started a thriving Democracy Cafe in Sebastopol, CA, as an antidote to today's polemical polarization. Listen in as he discusses the transformative potential of the kind of inquiry he embraces, one that requires immersive listening and that can enable us to connect with the very different needs and emotions of diverse others, without ever considering them 'the other.' Be sure to check out the website of Odin -- http://www.odinhalvorson.com/ -- a portal to the wonderful works and deeds of this exceptional young writer, filmmaker, philosopher, geek

January 30, 2018 08:40 AM PST

Chris McGown, an accomplished consultant and Divisional Director of Communications and Donor Engagement for The Salvation Army’s Kentucky/Tennessee Division, was in the thick of things during Hurricane Harvey. Though the ongoing relief effort was exhausting, he felt blessed as he thought of his family safe and sound back home. His aim throughout his professional life has been to make the world a better place not just for his own children, but all children. Chris gently and compellingly challenges a lot of the received wisdom about charitable giving. With his ear to the ground like few others, you'll likely find, as I did, that Chris's insights ring true. Be sure also to check out the blog of this exceptional listener, thinker and doer: http://clmcgown.com/blog/blog/

January 25, 2018 12:57 PM PST

No one I've had the privilege to know and collaborate with speaks more eloquently and passionately about our nation's successful and durable Constitution than Jeffrey Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center (ConstitutionCenter.org), where I had the high honor of serving as a Senior Educational Fellow. Listen in as Jeff, a preeminent scholar, educator, author, essayist and commentator on legal affairs, shares his perspective on what we all should know about our Constitution in particular, and the American system of governance in general -- and how we might best go about exploring, debating, discussing vital and pressing constitutional matters with one another today. Also be sure to check out Jeff's new book, out in March, on William Howard Taft, the only person to serve as both president and chief justice, that's part of the American Presidents Series.

January 25, 2018 08:58 AM PST

How is our longtime Socrates Cafe endeavor a vital way to advance our democracy within our military? Captain Alex Carlier of the U.S. Army can tell you firsthand. He was inspired by my works and deeds to hold Socrates Cafes on a regular basis not only at his current base in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, but where he was stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As you'll hear, there is considerable background noise as he and I talk, because Captain Carlier is actually at a cafe (how apropos is that smiley
-- but his eloquent message comes through loud and clear.

Here's the message he sent to me nine months ago:

Dr. Phillips,

Thank you for your work towards improving democracy and healthy dialogue throughout the world.

I am a company commander in the U.S. Army, and I started hosting Socrates Café dialogues with my junior leaders weekly while we were deployed to Iraq. One intriguing discussion took place when a platoon leader posed the question, “Are we storm troopers?” These have been important dialogues mainly focused on ethics, leadership, and sacrifice. I’d be happy to offer more feedback if you are interested.

Socrates Café has been a successful means of helping junior officers and non-commissioned officers to appreciate other perspectives and practice active listening and communication. I would like to continue doing this weekly at a dining facility on post at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

May I have your permission to facilitate this group while abiding by your goals and ideals?

Thank you again.


Alex H. Carlier, CPT, EN
A/39th BEB Commander

To which I replied to him: Yes!

Ours is a time when it is more vital than ever that there is a focus on “ethics, leadership, and sacrifice” as CPT Carlier put it.

I’m thrilled and humbled that he finds my “work towards improving democracy and healthy dialogue throughout the world” to be so vital, and so apropos to his own mission.

I find this particularly so:

— because of my late father Alex Phillips’s own military service and his subsequent stellar career in the Department of the Navy, where he rose to the highest echelons a the Supervisor of Shipbuilding in Newport News, VA; my father told me how he was so proud of my ‘legacy’, including my years-long labor of love holding Socrates Cafe inquiries (many of which I relate in my books) with troops and at military bases, an endeavor he considered essential to our democratic evolution.

Thank you Captain Carlier for your message that brought us together to hold this meaningful podcast exchange. I already look forward to doing another with you down the road.

January 23, 2018 12:24 PM PST

When I first met Nahui Ludekens many moons ago in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, she was doing impressive work as a photographer and with Gravity Works, an aerial acrobatic dance company. Now Nahui, who has dual Mexican-Australian citizenship, is back in Australia (where I earned my PhD), or Oz, as a college student, and is a very involved and committed political activist. On this podcast, we explore the process and events that led to this amazing young person's keen and abiding social and political consciousness and activism. Nahui and I also juxtapose and explore the political climate in Australia in comparison to that of Mexico and the U.S., and the relative ability to effect change in Australia's system of governance and civic participation versus that of these other two putatively democratic nations. Nahui's nonpareil civic spirit is contagious and inspiring. Listen in.

January 20, 2018 12:03 PM PST

How does the 'democracy game' (as New Yorker editor David Remnick put it in an essay) drive the money game (the title of a famous book by Adam Smith) in general and the stock market game in particular? How are they entwined, and where might they part company? How can a certain kind of market economy contribute to democratic vibrancy? No one better to ask than Paul Martin, Managing Partner of Martin Capital Advisors (MartinCapital.com). And no better day than his birthday to air this podcast. Paul is deeply involved in the civic sphere, serving on 18 (count 'em, 18) nonprofit boards, including Democracy cafe.

January 15, 2018 07:40 AM PST

On the day we celebrate the legacy of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rollingstone magazine contributor extraordinaire Isabela Raygoza opens my eyes to the fact that there's still a lot of good political and even overt protest music out there -- rousing people of many walks of life to do what they can and must to create more open and inclusive and critically aware societies -- if you know where to look. Listen is as she points us to both emerging and longtime popular musical artists of abiding social conscience -- from Residente to Cafe Tacvba to Kendrick Lamar, among others -- who in singular ways continue the tradition of luminaries like Bob Dylan and CSNY. Be sure to follow Isabela on Twitter @IsabelaRaygoza. And check out her body of work for Rollingstone here: https://www.rollingstone.com/contributor/isabela-raygoza

January 08, 2018 09:31 AM PST

Anthoula Katsimatides has experienced both tragedy and triumph like few others. A remarkably accomplished actor (she has recently appeared in the acclaimed movie 'Kazantzakis' as well as an episode of the drama 'Law and Order), Anthoula didn't start pursuing her career until her mid-30s. Her indomitable spirit, drive, enthusiasm and sense of possibility is contagious. Anthoula is a beacon for all who strive each and every today to push outward and upward the boundaries of all we might be and do as individuals and a society. I'm so proud that she is my second cousin -- our families are from Nisyros, Greece (part of the Dodecanese islands). She is a kindred spirit who embodies a type of noble striving that forever inspires. Today is the birthday of her beloved brother Mikey, who committed suicide in 1999. Less than two years later, her brother John -- whose office was on the 104th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center -- lost his life in the terrorist attack. In their honor, Anthoula founded the nonprofit JAM For Life Foundation (JAM is short for Johnny And Mikey). She also serves on the board of the National September 11th Memorial and Museum. Listen in as Anthoula shares her compelling story and transcendent wisdom. Be sure to check out her website at: http://anthoulakatsimatides.com/
PLEASE NOTE: Because of a technical glitch, there is a short part 2 continuation: Here is the link: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/socratescafe/episodes/2018-01-08T09_03_39-08_00

January 08, 2018 09:03 AM PST

After a brief technical hiccup, I continue my exploration with Anthoula Katsimatides (be sure to check out her website at http://anthoulakatsimatides.com/

December 28, 2017 09:35 AM PST

To the extent that citizens don't care for and about one another, and don't have one another's backs, can a supposedly democratic country really be said to be 'democratic'?

High school senior and all-around thoughtful and engaged democratic citizen Skyler Fredson is living right now in a small city in Belgium while taking part in an exchange program for the academic year.

Now that he has several months under his belt residing in Belgium with a host family and observing the ins and outs of everyday life, and academic life, I've been wondering how, in Skyler's estimation, their democracy compares with ours.

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