How to Host a World Cafe: Great Resources to Help You Host a Community Conversation that Matters

Creating space for strength in Calgary - Eaton International Consulting Inc.As part of our asset-based community development (ABCD) work with the Creating Space for Strength project in Calgary, we worked together with the Northern Hills Community Association to host a community consultation. We used the “world café” format and method to ignite a powerful conversation with the community. A few people have written to me asking us how we went about it. Here are some of our favorite “how to” resources that will help you host your own world café conversations:

Web resources

Here are some of the great web resources we found and shared with our team, the community and the volunteers who are working on the project:

Carson, L. (2011). Designing a public conversation using the World Café method. Social Alternatives, 30(1), 10-14. Available from

The World Café. (2008). Café to go: A quick reference guide for putting conversations to work. Available from

Brown, J. (n.d.). A resource guide for the world café. Available from

Brown, J. (n.d.). Speaking our worlds into being: The world café. Available from

Embedding Enterprise at Newcastle University.  World café creativity exercise. Available from

Slocum, N. (2005). Participatory methods toolkit: A practitioner’s manual: The world café: a joint publication of the King Baudouin Foundation and the Flemish Institute for Science and Technology Assessment (viWTA). Available from


Our two favorite books on how to organize and run a community conversation are:

Brown, J. (2005). The world café: Shaping our futures through conversations that matter. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

With a Foreward by Margaret Wheatley and an Afterword with Peter Senge, this book is my favorite “go to” resource.

World cafe book cover

Another book to have on your book shelf (and share with others) is:

Born, P. (2008). Community conversations: Mobilizing the ideas, skills and passion of community organizations, governments, businesses and people. Toronto: BPS Books.

Paul Born’s book might be easy to miss, since it does not have the phrase “world café” in its title. It contains great wisdom though and is worth the read.

Paul Born community conversations book cover


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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