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The Conversation Café will host two community sessions, one in the daytime and one in the evening, focused on the impact of the re-development of the Brown School. The structured format of Conversation Cafés will help residents hear all perspectives on the possible impact on the neighborhood and the community of the future use of the Brown School.

The first session will take place on Thursday, February 13, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM at the Senior Center, 331 High Street in Newburyport.

The second session will be on Thursday, February 27, from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM at the Belleville Church, 300 High Street, Newburyport.

At both sessions, residents will have opportunities to express their views and hear other points of view. The structure will follow the Conversation Café format which stresses intentional listening. 

The three questions which will be asked of all participants are as follows:

  • What do you hope to gain from this discussion?
  • What do you fear will happen to the neighborhood and/or community with the re-development of the Brown School?
  • What do you hope will happen to the neighborhood and/or community with the re-development of the Brown School?
  • Both sessions will conclude with a recap of “what we heard.”

Because the Brown School is a city-wide resource, the Café encourages residents in all neighborhoods to participate. The Café is also seeking representation from residents in close proximity to the school, as these residents have particular concerns.

“Participants, working in small groups, will have one minute to offer their answer to a question, and will support others by listening attentively to their answers, followed by another minute in which they can speak in response to what they heard,” commented Elizabeth Rose, who has organized several Conversation Cafés in Newburyport over the last year. Howard Mandeville, who lives near the Brown School noted, “In public meetings we have heard about the opportunity the Brown School presents for creation of housing that is affordable as well as the concerns neighbors have about density and traffic. The public meeting forum, however, can make it hard to really hear our neighbors. I am hopeful that the Conversation Café format will help us hear shared interests and appreciate points of difference.”

About Conversation Cafés

Conversation Cafés are free and open to the public. Conversation Cafés offer a structured format allowing everyone to speak and be heard. Cafés welcome a diverse audience willing to share different perspectives and engage in intentional listening. Conversation Cafés have been operating in Newburyport since 2017.

Photo by Bryan Eaton

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