Innovative technique gets everyone involved in debate

October 14, 2011

It’s a technique that hasn’t often been tried in the labour movement, but it’s one that will probably be repeated. Organized by CURC Vice-President Len Hope, the “New York café” added a touch of the coffeehouse to our 10th Constitutional Convention.

It’s also called by other names, but the idea is the same. Instead of sitting at their seats facing the podium, convention organizers set up the hall with small tables of four delegates each to debate CURC’s home-care policy paper. Tablecloths were laid and candles were placed on the tables to emulate the coffeehouse atmosphere.

Delegates were asked three questions:

  • Why do we care about home care?
  • What should our action priorities be for the future? and
  • What first steps should we take?

Delegates changed tables after each 10-minute discussion, and recorders kept notes on what was discussed.

At the end of the discussion, Hope reported that the recorders filed almost 200 pages of ideas and recommendations, which CURC’s executive will review.

“At most conventions, a lot of delegates don’t get the chance to speak. The lineups at the mics are long and people can get nervous,” said Hope. “With the New York café, everyone gets a chance to have their say.”

Delegates gather at small tables to discuss the home-care issue.
CURC First Vice-President Len Hope promoted the idea of the New York café.
Nearly 200 pages of recommendations and comments were posted by the recorders.

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