I had the good fortune to spend five days in southwest Colorado in early July. The first part of my journey was spent hiking, laughing, reminiscing, and dancing with six girls that I have known for 40 years, and the latter part was spent reconnecting with my oldest and dearest friend that I met in kindergarten. It was during these six days where I affirmed that my personal recipe for happiness lies in authentic, lasting, deep connection complete with meaningful conversations.

I am conflicted about the role of social media in my life. On the one hand, it keeps me connected to family, friends, and acquaintances and, in some sense, keeps me up to date on breaking news of the day. I can get inspired and even excited by pictures, articles, and updates. On the other hand, I can feel incredibly lonely and envious of what’s happening (or what I perceive to be happening) in other people’s lives when all that I can do is view them from my computer screen. I’m tempted to step off, or at least step out for a while, but I am afraid of what I’ll be missing.

What I would trade for the ability to get off social media altogether is the ability to actually connect in person with, not only those nearest and dearest to me, but with the community at large creating carefully curated community conversations.

In The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker says “the most powerful gatherings are the ones where people take risks, share stories, show a part of themselves that they may not have previously shared, and that people around them allow them to do that. By doing so, they are witnessing a moment and that moment lasts in multiple people’s memories”. I was blown away by the concept of curating conversations and wanted to know more and do more.

Parker suggests that creating an invitation to talk about the things that we care about indicates a great desire to have more meaning and depth in our common culture and community. If done properly, we need to create a container for those conversations. Some questions we need to pose before hosting are: Why are we doing this? What is our purpose? Who is this for? What is your culture when you are creating a gathering? Who belongs here?

Once those questions are considered, we need to take the practical steps towards action:
1. Identify your people. Think about the people in your community that you would like to attend.
2. Choose a question or issue that you would like to explore together. Create “heat” through questions like “What have you rebelled against in the past? Now? What makes you angry?”
3. Choose that theme and then prepare to make a toast or tell a story relating to that theme.

It is my intention to try this approach out in the fall and curate an intimate community conversation. It not only fulfills my desire for deeper conversations but my hope is that it marks only the beginning of creating greater and more meaningful connections in the community.

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