Constitution Cafés and Happy Hours are knowledge-based discussions about the Constitution, each of which addresses a specific constitutional issue.
They are designed to break away from the dynamics of the large lecture hall, and the invisible ‘wall of experts' of the panel discussion. Cafés create spaces where individuals and communities can become active participants in a dialogue about our democracy.
These dialogues foster a climate of reflection, inquiry, and knowledge building, and depart from the prevalent simplification of issues - the dichotomy of left/right / blue/red/ pro/con, in favor of complexity, and deeper understanding.
Facilitation - Constitution Cafés and Happy Hours are facilitated by a member of a community in cooperation with constitution talent, community members who have experience and engagement with the topic. Talent can be scholars, lawyers, community activists and organizers. Constitution Cafés and Happy Hours involve a facilitator and constitution talent.
Time Frame - Constitution Cafés and Happy Hours can run from 50 minutes to two hours, depending on the circumstances. The discussion leader/s present information for the first segment, typically 30 minutes, after which the floor is open to questions, discussions, listening, sharing. Thus, the bulk of the time is devoted to an interactive discussion after a shorter formal presentation. Through this design, Constitution Cafés and Happy Hours platform both formal information presented and unscripted public contemplation.
Seating - Whenever possible, a circular seating arrangement, or a variation thereof is used. Linear rows of seating are avoided. This seating arrangement bolsters a more animated exchange among participants.
Locations – Constitution Cafés and Happy Hours take place in cooperation with the community spaces which host them. These can be libraries, theaters, dance halls, restaurants, bars, cafés, parks, food courts, community rooms.
Constitutions — For some talks, special MDC editioned copies of the U.S. Constitutions are distributed free of charge.
Accessibility – Constitution Cafés and Happy Hours are free and open to the public.