The purpose is for people to see that we CAN talk constructively about disagreeable topics. And that we do need different points of view for complex topics. It is believed that a sizable portion of the USA population (perhaps 70 to 80%) are confused and dismayed by the inability to have a conversation about controversial issues. Frequently, the conversation quickly degrades to name calling and hardening of positions. The DaaFD provides an opportunity for people of goodwill to come together to discuss how those on multiple sides of an issue came to their viewpoint and the concerns they have about the intent of those on the other side. Enjoying a meal almost always provides a more congenial atmosphere for the discussion.
Anyone who agrees to three simple ground rules is welcome. They are: (1) desire to love & understand your country, (2) desire to love & understand your neighbor, (3) bring your whole self, including passions (without being offensive). We also find it helpful to desireopen-mindedness, a spirit of curiosity, and willingness to learn from others with different viewpoints.
You will be pleasantly surprised that attendees live up to the ground rules. Also, those who sign up for the Fight (Dialogue) are really signing up to do-disagreement-differently. People who sign up want to learn to disagree constructively. The process builds trust, such that more disagreement can be exposed. Furthermore, the facilitator acts as a guardrail, because real life means that we sometimes lose traction 🙂

The Dinner event generally is scheduled from 6:00pm to 8:30pm and has three elements:

The Dinner – Five people sit at each table. Find a table where you know people the least. There are some ice breaker questions to share as dinner conversations. Dinner generally is buffet style serving.

The Dialogue – Everyone retires to an adjacent location with seating for all as an audience. The audience faces five empty chairs with labels of agreement, neutral and disagreement. A facilitator explains what will happen and then reveals a divisive statement and asks 5 volunteers to populate the five chairs. Each person in a chair explains why they chose that chair and then the five interact for 10 minutes. There is then 30 to 40 minutes for the audience to interact with those in the five chairs. As a wrap up, each of the five chairs offers a closing remark, and the facilitator adds observations. Everyone returns to their original dinner tables.

The Dessert – Back at the original dinner tables, you are met with dessert and questions for further dialogic exploration. What just happened? Did we come close to agreement on something? What is the crux? Was there an elephant in the room? And more. Each person fills out a questionnaire about their reaction to the event and whether they would like to participate further in a Deep Dive after this DaaFD event.

On the DaaFD home page, click on the first link labeled “I want to find a DaaFD near me”.
The frequency is increasing as information spreads to other communities, cities and states. The intent is to eventually have at least one in every County in the United States (3,006 if you are wondering.) Frequently, someone who attends a DaaFD would like to bring it to a specific group, such as a community center, school or senior center. For the specific group, the format may be changed. As some examples, it may be more convenient to meet at a different time or for a different length of time or there may be a specific issue relevant to the group, instead of using a revealed issue.
On the DaaFD home page, click on the second link labeled “I want to Host a DaaFD”
We don’t try to resolve the divisive topic. Instead, we use the divisive topic to fuel the dialogue experience, and to see that our multiple views can be on the same team. We purposefully select complicated topics, that require more than 2.5 hours to fully understand. This way, we are forced to acknowledge that it is impossible for any one person to have the whole answer – that we need each other for a whole answer. The primary decision made at a DaaFD is that I can love my country without hating neighbors. Of course there is a time for deciding – we call that a Deep Dive Team. A Deep Dive Team adds techniques of deliberation to go with the tools of dialogue learned at DaaFD. These tools/techniques help the small team to understand trade-offs, find compromise, create new approaches and sometimes to still disagree, but with new depth of understanding.
Your host of the event works hard to assure diversity of thought in the room. Truly, the process only works when there is diversity in the room. The more diversity the better. Let’s face it, we each know that democracy requires disagreement, which in turn requires diversity of thought. No diversity of thought – no democracy(in today’s world we call it a silo, or echo chamber). So diversity of thought in the room, assures a disagreement.
You bet. Try to let your host know in advance, but even if it is a last-minute invite, we prefer that they come! A reminder: that you won’t sit at the same dinner table with your friend, which assures a unique experience for you both.
In the 2020’s it has been measured that about 70% of Americans are “exhausted by politics.” How do exhausted people participate in self-governance? WE DON’T. Yet, We The People still hunger for democracy. Oddly and surprisingly, many of us sense that the path is through healthy disagreement. That to disagree constructively, not divide destructively, is our civic duty. Deep down, we know that democracy is rooted in disagreement, that we are poorly skilled at constructive disagreement, and that we have almost no where to learn this critical skill. Disagreement is a surprising on-ramp to re-engaging as a citizen. From this on-ramp, we can introduce you to many lanes of participation, from the easy to the complicated. Dinner included 🙂