Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Write up of the first Death Cafe in Italy

As it was absolutely our first Death Cafe, we were quite content for it to be a smaller, cosier affair. There were 6 of us in total, including Elisabetta and myself, the two organisers.
It was held at Elisabetta's flat and this contributed to what was generally felt to be a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

We followed the Death Cafe guidelines pretty much to the letter with the exception that we decided that Elisabetta would do a short meditation session before the first exercise.
This worked really well as it focused people and helped them to concentrate in a calm, relaxed way. Highly recommended!

The first exercise went well and there was lots of feedback with everyone contributing. In fact it went on longer than we anticipated but that wasn't a problem.

We then served tea (fruit infusions) and homemade spicy apple cake and shortbread biscuits. We more or less cleared everything!

We then had a little problem as we had introduced the second exercise to be done in theory during the refreshments. There was a fair bit of chatting on general subjects which was nice but it meant that they weren't focused and it was a little hard for us to pull them back. We managed though and it went well even though almost everyone forgot to think about obstacles to what they wanted to achieve. However, we just tagged that on to the end.

The burning of the envelopes was carried out with great ceremony on the balcony with snow falling intermittently. Very atmospheric, everyone loved it!

I think that for everyone it was a very intense and meaningful experience, especially for me and Elisabetta.

The feedback from the questionnaire was all positive and included comments about how serene and protective the atmosphere had been and how they had felt very safe and relaxed about sharing their ideas and  feelings, even with people who were complete strangers. Two even said they would like to participate in another one. 

They also said they liked the refreshments (thanks folks, the biscuits won't be quite so hard and crunchy next time.........).

All in all we felt very happy about how it went. I personally found it extremely interesting and appreciated some of the profound comments that came up. Fascinating, I learned a lot.

We are already organising the next death cafe which will be held at an organisation here in verona called "casa di ramia". it's an intercultural centre run by the council and its aim (linked to equal opportunities) is to assist women of various nationalities (there are many africans, east europeans and north africans) who find themselves in difficulty or have been maltreated (physically or otherwise). they themselves have expressed a desire to hold a death cafe and want to provide refreshments, each of them offering something from their own country. i can't wait! i will let you know when that will take place and keep you updated. we also have a cafe and a bookshop in mind which we will approach to see if they are willing and, weather permitting, a death cafe picnic is looking very much on the cards in maybe june or july.

p.s. elisabetta found some truly wonderful paper napkins, black with a skull and crossbones on. priceless!

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