We hold that genuine self-determination and enfranchisement hinges on continual participation and input of all citizens, including our children and youth.
To that end, Democracy Cafe aims to revolutionize the way we talk to one another, explore questions together.. This in turn holds promise of transforming the way we go about educating, interacting with, and governing one another. It drives the evolution of a more inclusive and participatory society -- and, as a result, of democracy itself.
Nothing gives us a greater sense of 'mission, accomplished,' than when someone taking part in a Democracy Cafe-sponsored initiative says something to this effect: "I never would have imagined that such a diverse group of people had it in them to engage one another so thoughtfully and reasonably."
We believe everyone matters and counts, and that a vibrant open society hinges on an informed, engaged and enlightened citizenry.. We believe that 'we the people' have to get together -- more often than not in public places and spaces -- and take part in regular exchanges about their ideas and ideals. This can transform how we relate to one another, to ourselves, and to our society..
Democracy Cafe's initiatives -- whether a Socrates Cafe®, Philosophers' Club™, Constitution Cafe,™ Spirit of '76 Cafe™, Open Declaration Project™ -- are meant to make us more connected. Our dialogue projects employ a version of the Socratic method -- accessible but rigorous -- that requires sympathetic immersion in diverse views, and the sustained consideration of compelling objections and alternatives to any given way of seeing things. In the inquiries we spearhead using this method, stronger bonds are forged among intimates and strangers alike..
We are actively reviving a tradition embraced by the West's first democracy, in ancient Athens in its heyday, in which the 'experts' took their marching orders from a citizenry of enlightened generalists. We believe it's incumbent to become our own most expert thinkers, questioners, doers -- each of us taking it upon ourselves to be, in a telling sense, captains of the democratic ship..
This is not a 'populist' approach in any traditional sense, but rather is based on the premise -- wrought from nearly 20 years of experience -- that so-called ordinary people, at all ages and stages of life, reveal the most uncommonly perceptive insights, when given the opportunity.
Most of all, Democracy Café is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit that strives to come to a greater understanding of the nature and future of democracy, and to influence its nature and future through signature initiatives that cultivate thoughtfulness, reasonableness, inquisitiveness and inclusiveness in an age of polarization. We aim to expand the public debate around the globe about the possibilities for self governance and civic participation.
One key operating premise of ours is that civil-mindedness is a key springboard to greater civic-mindedness. We aim to inspire people of all walks of life to come together and discover uncommon common ground, so that over time an entire citizenry is inspired and equipped to contribute to democratic vibrancy on local and global scales.