We alternate: One month we do Saturday night, 7-10:30; the
next month we do Sunday afternoon, , because there are people for whom each of
these times is bad – some people don’t drive at night or can’t
get babysitters – some people are not available on Sundays. We
have one guy who comes into town for the weekend and then goes
back to his house in Eastern North Carolina
for a week of work. But Sunday afternoon sessions are good; some
of the people who are not too tired and who don’t have other
commitments go out to dinner together afterwards.
How does a Salon session go?
You can run the Case Study of a Race
Relations Salon Slide Show: SalonMike90405 – almost as good as being
Leaders arrive and converse with each other and I talk with
them while the “Godfather” (Registrar) checks people in.
I open the meeting and discuss “Housekeeping” (when we will
have breaks, and please help with cleanup before leaving) and
any “old business” and introduce the leaders.
Sometimes I have a burning issue to bring to the group
before we get started. Sometimes I have a “Warm Up” activity.
I introduce the leaders.
We go around and introduce ourselves to each other briefly –
one minute or less – 20 people x 2 minutes would take up 40
minutes just in introductions!
Leaders lead the discussion for an hour or so. Sometimes
they give people an activity to do.
After 1 ½ hours, I announce the Break (20-30 minutes).When
we take a break, I ask people when they come back to sit in a
Leaders lead the discussion for 1 ½ hours.
How do you decide on future topics?
I keep track of all the topic suggestions and who made each
suggestion. We are constantly thinking of new topics as well.
Periodically I send out a list of topics and ask people to pick
their favorites. Note that I get very little feedback when I
send out these lists. But periodically I pass out copies of the
list at a Salon meeting, at the beginning, and that’s when we
get more feedback.
How do you pick leaders?
I call people I know to have social skills and ask if they are willing to lead on a topic
they voted for. For example, we asked John Edwards to lead the
one on Electoral Politics, but he said, through an assistant, of
course, that he had another commitment. I ask the Content
Leaders to pick or suggest their own Co-Leaders.
Can I come?
If you send me your name, address, phone number and email, I
will invite you to a future Salon. Please, do NOT just show up.
Have you ever turned anyone away?
So far, only one person. But we may do more in the future –
I think 25 is too large. We may try running two groups in
Do you get angry, disruptive behavior?
Yes, but extremely rarely. We’ve also had people not come to
a specific topic because the topic is too upsetting and they
know they will lose their temper. We present the Salon as best
we can to be non-confrontational. More specifically, we explain
that in our experience, no amount of ranting changes anyone’s
mind. (See the Guidelines.)
Why are you doing this?
Because I need people – you know how that Barbra Streisand
song goes, “People who need people….”
Because I want to expand my mind and help others to do the
Because in some fantasy, I hope to change the world.
We’re doing the website to make the method we have tested
available to others. I would like to encourage people to have
their own salon.
How did you get started?
I just read about it (We suggest you google “Salon –
Discussion Group” and write to Utne Reader for a copy of the
Salon Issue.), started talking and did it (after about 12 years
of procrastination!). We also went to visit the people in
Illinois who had been having
a salon for years. [www.ElginSalon.com]
What’s great about the Salon?
It brings people together. It breaks through stifling
polarization in our society and helps heal the isolation and
pain people feel when they are unacknowledged.
What haven’t you done yet?
Take our clothes off
Take a field trip
To help people communicate across barriers of class, age, race,
gender and political persuasion to build communication and community
Goals of the Salon
To bring diverse people together.
To communicate things that are of importance and concern to
all of us.
To share a social event and meet new people.
To continually poll the group about what ideas will make a
good three-hour topic.
To develop communication skills, leadership and group
process skills (speaking, questioning, summarizing, listening,
paying attention to cues, conflict resolution…).
To break down barriers between people, such as fear and