Joshua Alexander

Designer of healthy spaces

Salons and This-is

In an age of immediacy, rarely can simplicity and mindfulness find a place to reside. The distractions that too easily divide us, polarize issues, or stop the conversation entirely seem to take precedent over thought. Lacking are the wondrous social debates that Dena Goodman describes as "the very heart of the philosophic community." Where is the modern salon? Instead of lively arguments of social woes and whims, pontification is mistook for passion and a wedge is driven deeper between the sides of any argument. We must learn again to disagree and debate, not disagree and retreat. There are too many worthwhile endeavors, too many missed connections, and too few safe places for open discourse.

A gathering of minds in our communities is a step forward. We must shamelessly offer ideas and dissect them so that we may begin to notice those spaces from which our eyes have been shielded. But, center stage—a place of performance—is no place for growth. It is at the kitchen table where ideas flow freely, at the rim of a wine glass, hip to hip with passion and creative might, respected and challenged.

How does it work? Democratic consensus. Individuals write down topics at the beginning of the night. Each topic is afforded further explanation in a sentence or two. Following the explanation, everyone votes, and the two or three topics that receive the most votes proceed into discussion to broaden our perspectives, and share the benefits of new connections.

What's the point? We have an increasingly difficult time communicating effectively in this world of instant everything. It's wearing on me, and it's wearing on many of my friends. Let us get back to basics: real communication. Sometimes the best action one can take is mindfulness with an ear for other views. Our hope is that we can be mindful of the beauty of engaged discourse and through that process, endeavor to find new ways to support our communities.

This is all to say, come join me and my friends on the second Friday of every month for some wine and lively dialogue. Bring your friends. Let's talk. Even if we disagree. Especially if we disagree. I will treat you with respect and listen to your argument if you will extend to me the same courtesy. This is a beginning. This is why we're here. This-is.