Café Society

Café Society is a series of conversations where families, friends, neighbors, and citizens come together to discuss current events and other important political and social issues. By engaging in the meaningful exchange of ideas and perspectives, these conversations enliven the core of democracy and empower the public.

Through discussion, we seek to foster a robust civil society, cohesive
 interactive communities, and a critical examination of our media. We invite people to engage one another in discussion from all points of view, dig deeper into a given subject, and help create a stronger democratic society.


People are talking...

Café Society discussion at WBEZ's North Side Bureau (June 25, 2010)Café Society discussion at WBEZ's North Side Bureau (June 25, 2010)"Café Society provides the space for issues to be hammered out, debated, and discussed. It helps people to develop their critical thinking skills and encourages them to delve deeper." – Elce Redmond, community organizer

"The topic engendered interest and a lot of discussion. It was inevitably punctuated by much laughter." Nillofur Zobairi, Café Society facilitator in Carbondale, Illinois on the topic: "What a Hoot: The Politics of Making Them Laugh."

"It’s critically important that not only friends but strangers talk to each other about social issues. A cornerstone of any kind of deliberative democracy is talking to strangers and doing a lot of it." Barbara Ransby, historian and author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement.

This series is made possible in part by the generous support of the McCormick Foundation's journalism program. 


How can you be a part of Café Society?


Join the Conversation!

Attend one of the regularly-hosted Café Society discussions held every week at the following locations and times:

 1st Wednesdays

  • 6-7 p.m., NiteCap Coffee Bar, 1738 West 18th St, Chicago

2nd Fridays

  • 5-6 p.m., Ron's Barber Shop, 6058 W North Ave, Chicago  

3rd Wednesdays

  • 1-2 p.m., Chicago Cultural Center's 1 Garland Room, 77 E Randolph St, Chicago

3rd Thursdays

  • 7:30-8:30 p.m., Panera Bread, 1126 E Walnut St, Carbondale

4th Week

  • Roving Café Society discussions around Chicago. Date and time announced the week before.

Do It Yourself!

Are you looking to become more involved in your community? Do you want to share this style of discussion with your friends? If there aren't any Cafe Society conversations near you, we invite you to reate your own. Anyone can host their own discussion!

You can also check out these featured DIY sites here in Chicago:

Critical Encounters Cafe Society Meetings
Critical Encounters at Columbia College will host discussions at campus galleries and exhibits throughout the 2010/11 academic year. Cafe Society meetings are opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and community members to come together and talk about the larger implications of the images we confront and create. Meetings are usually held on Tuesdays from 4 to 6 PM.
For topic information and location, please visit the Critical Encounters website.

Call us at 312.422.5580, visit us on Facebook, or drop us a line with any questions, comments, or to just let us know how you're bringing discussion and democracy to your 'hood.