'World Cafe' event ignites conversation

RESEARCH: Megan Smith, Verity Paterson, Claire Wiseman, Courtney Dowling and Sam Johnson at the 'World Cafe' event.
RESEARCH: Megan Smith, Verity Paterson, Claire Wiseman, Courtney Dowling and Sam Johnson at the 'World Cafe' event.

Key figures and stakeholders from around the town gathered at the ‘World Cafe’ event to discuss innovative ways to respond to local challenges.

University of New England student Megan Smith is completing her Masters of Economics and Regional Development and has chosen Port Augusta as the perfect destination to test her ‘World Cafe’ tool to determine how a community can progress in the face of adversity.

The ‘World Cafe’ is designed to Spark intentional conversation which will then lead to change as the community strives to find wealth in whats known as a social capitol, over big business. 

Ms Smith said the key themes arising from the workshop included the need to find ways to support small and medium term businesses. 

“There are examples of where the town has really come together to support business and broader projects,” she said.

“The is about finding ways that are different and understanding the assets of the local area.”

Ms Smith said while there has been a lot documented in regards to the challenges facing regional economies, there is little known about the tools that can help those economies build a shared vision and explore collective actions to combat these challenges. 

“Conversations can become long winded and stuck in negative cycles, so the ‘World Cafe’ is about providing ways that are intentional in what we want to do,” she said.

“It’s not just about having a conversation, it’s about having conversation with intent and rigor and deciding what the next steps are so its not just suspended in mid air.”

The researcher is hopeful that the ‘World Cafe’ will provide a platform for regular conversation in order to create a sense of hopefulness and commitment to the long term collective vision for the town.

Research from the event will be made available in November.