The conversations are relaxed yet structured, with a new topic each month. Events happen at multiple locations (cafés and other public spaces) throughout the month. They are led by a team of local volunteers trained in facilitation, and are open to everyone free of charge or obligation.
The conversation topics are chosen from community suggestions and contributions and change monthly. Volunteers are trained as facilitators to help guide events towards supported, safe, and meaningful conversations.
The series of conversations is hosted across the city in cafés and community spaces that have agreed to host Wellington Conversations events for free. There is no cost to attend and there is no obligation to purchase anything.
Built on partnerships between local café owners, volunteers, and community organisations, the project is a six month pilot being delivered by Reframe Aotearoa with support of Wellington City Council. It starts in September 2019, focusing initially on the central city with monthly events held at different locations across Wellington City.
We created Wellington Conversations because we believe that connected communities can improve individual wellbeing and help us become a more resilient city.
Martin Kaulback & Jo Woods
Communications & marketing
Community practice advisor
Wellington City Council
Clare Hutchens, Jess Ducey and David Wood
Inner City Wellington
Iwi leader and cultural advisor
Wellington Conversations is a free public event series that provides a chance to connect with other locals over facilitated conversations about topics that matter to us as Wellingtonians.
Conversation events take place in cafés and other public spaces on a monthly basis, and aim to bring people and neighbourhoods together to share ideas, see from new perspectives and discover new ground.
The events are facilitated by teams of community members (referred to as "conversation facilitators") who volunteer and are trained in a model of community facilitation.
Wellington Conversations is a six month pilot project. The project is built on partnerships between local café owners and businesses, volunteers, and community organisations. The project is delivered by Reframe Aotearoa with support and funding from Wellington City Council.
We believe that things happen when people talk to each other. Knowing people who live near us helps us to feel a greater sense of belonging and connection to each other. Connected communities are stronger, healthier and happier.
The primary aim of Wellington Conversations is to support people who live near other to build better relationships through good conversations - facilitating neighbourhood and community connection in regular, free events that take place in safe, supported environments.
The other two aims of Wellington Conversations are: to provide accessible opportunities and support for people around Wellington City to learn facilitation skills - skills and tools which are invaluable for leadership and community connectedness; and, to strengthen relationships and connections between cafés and spaces and people who live nearby.
As a pilot project, we are hoping to understand if the project does achieve these aims. This means evaluatin the project, and sharing learnings about it. The project is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence - meaning that the tools and knowledge gathered and created under the project may be used by others at no cost, so long as they acknowledge the creators and also share any changes or innovations under the same licence.
Everyone is welcome to come to Wellington Conversations. If you can, come to an event happening in or near to your neighbourhood - so that you can meet other people who live near you.
The format of Wellington Conversations enables open and equal access to community discussion for everyone. Our intention is to bring people together over common ground, as well as in diversity.
The events follow an easy-to follow structure and are hosted by a team of conversation facilitators. Their role is to run the events and provide a structure for the conversations that enables everyone’s voices to be heard and respected. Events will generally go for about 90 minutes - this may vary a little depending on the venue.
When you arrive, look out for Wellington Conversations signage to help locate events, and for people wearing Wellington Conversations t-shirts. You’ll be welcomed by a conversation facilitator, given a name tag and asked to grab a seat. If it’s your first time at a Wellington Conversations event, you will also be asked to fill in a short, anonymous survey – this is voluntary.
At some venues you will be able to buy non-alcoholic refreshments, like coffee and tea - but you are under no obligation at all to buy anything. You're also welcome to bring baking to share – food won’t be available for purchase.
The events open with the conversation facilitators introducing themselves and participants meeting each other at their tables. If they choose to, they may open with a karakia, a saying, or a few moments of silence. The conversation facilitators introduce the theme, explain the process for the conversation, and check that everyone agrees on the purpose of the event, and agrees on how they want to be with each other in the conversations.
Participants then discuss three questions in small groups of between three and five people – shifting tables to sit with new people between each question – with about 20 minutes for each question. Everyone discusses the same question at the same time.
To close, the conversation facilitators will hand out post-it notes, and ask everyone to write down something from the conversations they’ve had which they would like to share with others. Each table is invited to choose and share a thought. The conversation facilitators will then close the meeting, and invite everyone to stick their post-it notes on the wall. The conversation facilitators will take a photo of the post-it notes and share it on social media.
You can expect to have a really good conversation with people you haven’t met before (but who you probably live close to). The events are structured so you have the experience of ‘digging in’ to a topic that matters – small groups enable everyone to participate in the conversation, and changing tables between questions (see ‘What is a Wellington Conversations event like?’) allows you to hear diverse perspectives and meet different people.
Participation at every stage of the conversations is voluntary. You will never be asked to believe or say anything. There will be no expectation on any participants to speak in front of large groups or to perform in any way (except for the conversation facilitators, of course). If you prefer to just sit and listen to conversation, that is okay too. However, it is expected that everyone is able to be listened to while they talk.
Respect, safety and tolerance to difference are at the heart of all events. You can expect to meet people from your neighbourhood who come from all walks of life so be prepared for some interesting and meaningful conversations.
The conversation facilitators are there to support conversations if they are needed. Their role is to provide enough structure for a good conversation – but also to lean back and let you just have a good conversation. If they need to, they might offer some extra questions or thoughts to help a stuck conversation move forwards – or offer to chat with someone by themselves if they need someone to talk to.
All Wellington Conversations events are alcohol free.
Events are always free of cost and any obligation. There is no entry fee. At some venues you will be able to buy non-alcoholic refreshments, like coffee and tea - but you are under no obligation at all to buy anything.
To attend, all you need to do is turn up at the venue with enough time to settle yourself and get ready to discuss.
We are working on a booking system for events at present - once this is created, up to 50% of the seats at the event may be booked in advance. Bookings are always free. We are trialing this system as a way of balancing the needs of people who like to or need to be organised, and others who prefer to show up at events.
For now, if you would like to come to an event but you would like to make sure you have a seat - for example, if you have access needs - please email us. We'll do our best to make sure we have space for you.
Email us at email@example.com.
We believe that participating in community conversations should be as easy and accessible as possible to everyone, regardless of physical ability, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, language or religion.
We are doing our best to use venues with good mobility access and facilities. The location descriptions will be updated regularly with information about the accessibility of locations. If you need extra support to access events, please let us know.
The conversations are about topics that bring us together to talk - the most important part of Wellington Conversations. The topics are about things that matter to communities and individuals - conversations that we can all relate to. The topic and questions are the same at each event across the city. This means the whole city is having the same conversation throughout the month.
The conversation topics are chosen based on community suggestions and contributions. The volunteers, advisory group, and organising team are all involved in choosing them. You can contribute a topic using the form on the Contact page: Share a topic form
The topics are based on suggestions so they belong to communities and are about things that matter to neighbourhoods and individuals. The topic will be publicly shared at the start of each month. For example, the topic for September will be released in the first few days of the month in the newsletter and on the website.
We invite everyone to share ideas for what we could talk about. If you have a conversation topic that matters to you, or which you think is interesting or valuable, we’d love to hear from you.
These events are about connecting with each other over good conversations. The structure and approach to the conversations has been specifically crafted to support this to happen.
At Wellington Conversations, all the conversations you will have with each other are yours. The conversation facilitators will not be recording or capturing conversations or what you believe. The project will not channel or submit the content of the conversations into any formal consultation or planning processes.
So that we can share the tone of the conversation with Wellington, at the end of the event participants will be invited to write down (on a post-it note) something they heard in the conversations that they would like to share with other people. As you leave, you’ll be invited to stick your post-it note on the wall. The conversations facilitators will take a photo of the notes and the project will share it on social media.
As with all parts of the events, participation in this is optional.
From time to time, we may take photos at events to document the project and also to share the experience of the conversations on social media. If this is going to take place at an event you’re at, the conversations facilitators will let you know. If you prefer to not have your photo taken, or you would not like to be visible in social media posts, just let the conversation facilitators or photographer know and they will respect your wishes.
There will be no filming of events.
Participation at every level of Wellington Conversations is without obligation, expectation or pressure. You will never be asked to believe or say anything, and you are free to come or go as you please. There will be no expectation on anyone to speak in front of large groups or to perform in any way (except if you are a conversation facilitator, of course).
The conversations take place in small groups - you will have the opportunity to talk and listen to the few people around you. If you would prefer to listen and not talk, that is totally fine though. However, it is expected that at Conversations, people listen with respect and care to what others have to say.
Events are hosted by a team of trained conversation facilitators who will guide conversations to enable everyone’s voices to be heard and respected in a space that is connected, safe and accommodating to all people. Conversation facilitators are drawn from the communities in which conversations take place, and are trained in our model of community conversation facilitation. Wellington Conversations staff may also be at the events to help run them and support volunteers.
Wellington Conversations is always open to connecting new neighbourhoods, communities and people in sharing ideas, stories and experiences. Our vision is that Wellington Conversations grows community and spreads across the city, offering even more opportunities for people to connect. To do so, we need people to volunteer as conversation facilitators.
Conversation facilitator training takes place every couple of months. The next training opportunity will likely be in October. Training sessions are free and open to everyone. We strongly value diversity in our conversation facilitators. We are interested in people who come from different backgrounds, groups or interest areas but welcome anyone who is interested in offering time and energy to their community.
Once trained, you can expect to be part of the growing community of conversation facilitators who work together to host monthly conversations.
If you’re interested in being trained as a Wellington Conversations facilitator, or would like to learn more about what’s involved, email the Wellington Conversations team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wellington Conversations is always open to connecting new neighbourhoods and communities. Our vision is that Wellington Conversations grows and spreads across the city, offering even more neighbourhood venues for people to connect and talk in.
Suitable venues should offer full mobility access and facilities. And, as Wellington Conversations is a free community initiative, venues are used free of charge. So that people are able to talk in meaningful ways, we ask that venues not be open for other business while Wellington Conversations are taking place. This means that venues must be accessible after hours, either run by one or two staff (such as a cafe) or by our conversation facilitators (such as in a community space).
If you have a venue that may be suitable and if you’d like us to help you establish monthly Wellington Conversations events in your neighbourhood, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at email@example.com.
You can contribute to Wellington Conversations in lots of ways. Some of these include:
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in supporting the project in any way.