Create an invite list.
- We encourage you to invite people who will feel comfortable enough with each other that they will feel safe and open with one another.
- Inviting around six people seems about right.
Send out your invitations.
- It’s important to be clear about what the dinner group will look and feel like. Let invitees know that they will not be preached at or guilted. That is the antithesis of the dinner group’s purpose.
Create a menu and/or theme.
- Please, oh please, make sure there is good food served. Enough said.
Consider the space.
- This may seem obvious, but take a minute to consider the comfort and functionality of the space in order to cultivate the best conversation possible.
DINE & DISCUSS
Welcome your friends and eat some good food!
- Start the conversation with introductions.
- Introduce the ethos of both the Far Between Project and the Dinner Groups themselves.
- Give an idea of how the evening will play out. Feel free to be as open and specific as the group requires.
Set common ground rules.
- Outline the suggestions from Far Between’s Conversations page.
- Invite your friends to share any ideas for ground rules they’d like to follow as you engage in the conversation. Please take note of all the ground rules suggested by the group. Since we have found it very helpful, we strongly encourage the host to ask everyone to speak of their experience as personal and perhaps unique to themselves and to avoid generalized or sweeping statements. This helps draw people in by understanding better where each person is coming from without alienating those with differing experience.
Establish a common starting point by introducing a first-person narrative.
- This website provides you with multiple venues for first person narratives. You can watch a video produced by the Far Between project or use a video, book, book excerpt, blog or essay from among those we’ve compiled.
Respond to the narrative by relating it to your own life.
- First, discuss what actually happened in the story (try to use descriptive rather than evaluative statements).
- Next, discuss how you relate to the narrative.
Discuss the implications.
- Ask questions that help your friends make meaning out of the new information presented. Please make it clear that your friends do not have to agree with or condone anyone’s choices of behavior but that they are simply being asked to do the work of empathizing with how it must feel to be the person presenting the narrative.
DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT
Brainstorm empathy-building moments you all can engage in individually or as a group in the following week to employ more empathy or be more sensitive to others’ needs. If you like, decide how you can all share your experiences in employing empathy, what came of it, and how it felt.
Encourage your friends to host their own Dinner Group with other sets of friends or plan another meeting for this group.
Please let your friends know that they can donate to Far Between on the donate page on this site (we certainly wouldn’t discourage you from having your computer available for this part). Donations can be tax deductible and will support Far Between in bringing you more stories, resources, and ideas like Dinner Groups.
Invite your friends to a Community Conversation hosted by Empathy First Initiative that hold a space for community members to come together to ask questions and share experiences in a larger group setting.