from the emaillist, May 25, 2012.
I am wondering if anybody has any creative ideas for trying to do a world cafe for a group of about 130 people in a space that has fixed seating, stadium style. I think that is going to be a physical space challenge that I am not going to be able to change and I'm wondering if that means I need to give up on the idea of doing a cafe. I just know I don't have to give up the cafe, but need help thinking about how to do it.
If you have access to a stage or a bit of space outside you can encroach into, then you can use that space for people to meet each other and get into their groups and then let them sort themselves out within the available space. This can work particularly well if in some way the 'movement' can metaphorically fit with the content of the Cafe. (similar to 'milling' in Joanna Macy reconnecting work) - I think it can be really positive to bring the outside world somehow into the bubble of the Cafe.
Where there is a front row of fixed seats, it may be possible to face them with other seats. It may also be possible to have some groups set up the own chairs on a stage. There can be something lovely in the symbolism of the audience taking over the stage.
The more it can be like a game of life - 'how can we creatively adapt to the environment we are in in a fun way?' - rather than a struggle with fixed constraints the better in my experience. I can remember one Cafe on a campus where the last question was something like 'What do we want to communicate to everyone else ?' and the harvest was 'go out communicate it and see what happens' and come back in 15 minutes !
Good luck !