Last night I learned about different home heating options such as biomass, fossil fuels and geoexhange (moving heat from the ground into buildings). It was a great evening of learning from an expert as well as my neighbours. It was part of a monthly series of discussion nights I organize called Green Drinks.
Green Drinks in my small town is about getting together over drinks, learning more about an environmental or social topic and stimulating conversation. I try and find a resource person to kick off the discussion and provoke us to think beyond what we might know. The fun is really in meeting new people and hearing their thoughts.
Last night we held the evening as a conversation café where we had three rounds of conversation after a fifteen minute introduction by our speaker. People rotated through tables with one person remaining at each table throughout to act as a host and share what the people in the earlier rounds had to say. After thirty minutes everyone gathered together in a bigger conversation to ask other questions and share a bit about what their tables spoke about.
I use Conversation Café techniques in my work but was hesitant to try it in an informal, casual setting. It was certainly a more structured green drinks than normal but when asked if they liked the format, there was an overwhelming amount of support to keep it up. I am coming to the conclusion that forced networking techniques from the KM world are great tools for both inside and outside the workplace….even in small rural communities where you think everyone already knows each other!