World Cafe was born out of the realization that the best and most productive part of a large group conference is the Coffee Break! when we are free to self organize and speak about what matters to us.
World Cafe gives a minimal structure to encourage participation, simultaneous small group discussions and knowledge making for large groups all debating a question that matters to our group. We hold three rounds of these simultaneous conversations with people randomly sitting at a different table every round, before going back to our big group to share our findings.
By allowing people more freedom, flexibility, refreshments and close encounters while gathering and harvesting our knowledge we can recognize themes, patterns and major questions and feelings in the room. This is the creation of collective intelligence, meaningful conversations and builds our community through intimate personal meetings within a big event. Creative energy and some healthy chaos allow for new (and possibly surprising) ideas and understandings to be born.
Elpida Home Transition World Cafe, Greece, 2016
There is a great wealth of materials on this available online, with the World Cafe network or in the Art of Hosting Website.
World cafe was conceptualized by Juanita Brown and David Isaacs in 1995, and is an amazing tool for meaningful communication. For more Action based results, Rainer v. Leoprechting and Ria Baeck created ProAction Cafe in 2008, which is a skillful mix of Open Space Technology and World cafe - allowing for individuals to suggest and process projects/initiatives/solutions within a big group. Read more about it (and download open source resources) on the Art of Hosting website, or here.