Laura Chasin, a practicing therapist, hit on the idea for PCP in 1989 while she watched an abortion debate on television devolve into a shouting match. It occurred to Chasin that she might apply the conflict resolution techniques she used with families every day in her office to public debates over abortion and other controversial subjects.
46 Kondazian Street
Watertown, MA 02472
This project of the California-based Whole Systems Associates is basically an adaptable blueprint for fostering conversation in groups large and small. The model recreates a café setting—complete with food—and groups divide into small groups of four or five people to explore a given topic for a short time. There’s a good deal of emphasis on visual means like diagramming and drawing to inspire creativity and "map" evolving ideas.
Disillusioned with the adversarial nature of the justice system, African American attorney Sharif Abdullah quit the law and eventually formed the Commonway Institute in Portland, Oregon, which sponsors the Commons Café and other projects designed to foster "inclusive social change."
Portland, OR 97212
These public forums, sponsored by the Twin Cities–based Heartland Institute, are a hybrid of the talk and the salon. A speaker primes a group of about 200 with ideas and suggestions—conversation guru Margaret Wheatley (see p. 55) has played this role in the first several forums, held in Massachusetts and Minnesota. The audience divides up into small groups, then reunites for a final hour of ensemble talk.
4243 Grimes Ave. S
Edina, MN 55416