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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 14, 2018 01:35 PM PST

Steve Lambert, co-founder with Steve Duncombe of the Center for Artistic Activism (artisticactivism.org), believes that art and artistry have an unrivaled role to play in ending oppression, sparking greater equality, and making ours more a world in which we all can live with leisure and joy. We can quibble over the details of how we best accomplish this, but Steve believes that most people -- even those who might be considered 'the opposition' -- want to achieve this. But first, he maintains, we have to be able to imagine such a world. And that's where the Center for Artistic Activism comes in. Listen in (and also be sure to check out Steve's personal website at VisitSteve.com, as well as that of Stephen Duncombe at StephenDuncombe.com)

February 10, 2018 09:55 AM PST

Steve Hornsby, one of my best and oldest friends (since at least 1975), is as young at heart, entrepreneurial and democratic in spirit, as they come. If you wanted to engage in great Socratic conversation, and absorb the best in family values, his home in Newport News, Virginia, was the go-to place in my youth. All of those in the Hornsby family I have had the privilege to know have met with unique forms of success (including their cousin, the musician Bruce Hornsby) over the years. As the founder and indefatigable organizer of the enormously successful College Prep Golf Tour (CollegePrepGolfTour.com), Steve has filtered his passion for golf and entrepreneurialism into a most unique venture that has changed so many young lives for the better -- and it all started because, as a dedicated dad first and foremost, he wanted to create something special for his amazingly talented son. Listen in.

February 08, 2018 08:18 AM PST

Hadi Alshaikhnasser is the founder and coordinator of a thriving Socrates Cafe in a place you might like least expect it to take hold -- Saihat, Saudi Arabia. He first became smitten with Socrates Cafe when, as a medical school student, he attended regularly the gathering in Montclair, New Jersey -- the very first one I ever established, way back in 1996, and meets weekly to this day. After then founding a group of his own in Omaha, Nebraska while on fellowship there, when Hadi returned to Saudi Arabia, he decided that Socrates Cafe should be a community staple there -- and that's precisely what has happened. Listen in as Hadi stirringly describes the wondrous kinds of transformations that happen as a result of inquiring regularly (and philosophically) the Socrates Cafe way. Hadi, for one, has come to be much more accepting of others, thanks to Socrates Cafe, because of the unparalleled opportunity it gives one to understand why others are coming from where they're coming from. 'We all probably want the same things, though maybe the way we go about getting those things is different,'" as he puts it.

February 06, 2018 09:47 AM PST

How do we raise children who reflect the best of us -- and how can they, in a sense, help raise us so we continue to grow as humans? No one on this planet better to pose such a question to than Meghan Leahy, immensely popular and acclaimed essayist for the Washington Post's 'On Parenting' column, and a much in-demand parent coach (her website is https://www.mlparentcoach.com/ ). Meghan has a gift for shifting one's entire outlook on what parenting can be all about -- 'always knowing what I don't know,' as she put it' Socratically -- redirecting from one of 'issues' that one needs to tackle to simply looking at things with deeper lenses of understanding and empathy, and recognizing there are no easy answers. Listen in.

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.

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