Make Shift Coffee House

Good Food. Live Music. Real Civil Conversation.

The Problem

The growing incivility in our communities, states and nation is a major problem that needs to be addressed. Make Shift Coffee House events bring people with different political views together for an afternoon or evening of live music, shared food and face-to-face civil conversation. Topics and format vary, but every coffee house is run by an experienced facilitator. Though I see huge benefits and value in our increasingly online world, I believe that an overall consequence of so much social media and online time is that we humans are becoming more and more disconnected and dissatisfied. I think we need more entry points for getting to know others in a meaningful way. We don't have to agree, but it's important to me that we have guidelines for civility and opportunities to engage in civil conversations.

In its first 18 months, Make Shift Coffee House has held 20 coffee house events, reached 1200 in-person attendees, and the impact reaches many more as the attendees bring the guidelines, lessons and wisdom from the coffee house to their friends, family, co-workers and others.

The Solution

Here is how Jane Gallagher, pictured right and a volunteer who has given countless hours to Make Shift Coffee, describes the mission

A Make Shift Coffee House is a face-to-face event where people of different political views can have a civil conversation and learn from each other. I first got to know Make Shift Coffee House when I joined a group of local women to host a Make Shift Coffee House event in my home town of Yarmouth, Maine. At our event, I witnessed the profound impact of the coffee house on people who attended. I witnessed people sharing their views and stories about why they believe what they do. I witnessed people saying “I never thought about it that way.” I witnessed people approaching each other after the facilitated conversation and shaking hands and committing to stay in touch. I witnessed how deeply our communities hunger for ways to reach across the political divide and have meaningful conversations. I think focusing not on finding common ground, but rather on building tools for listening and understanding and finding our shared humanity is critical to our democracy, our sense of peace and belonging and our overall wellbeing!

Planned Use Of Funds

We want to have more Make Shift Coffee Houses in more places across the country so more people with different political views can understand each other. In a world where the political divide is growing and where civil discourse is eroding, we offer an alternative to buck these trends. The model we have developed has proved to be very popular AND it’s easily replicable with minimal funding. We would use funding for three things:

  1. Support local volunteer hosts with publicity, supplies, and technical assistance for more Make Shift Coffee Houses;
  2. Travel expenses for facilitators to lead Make Shift Coffee Houses around the country;
  3. Training for others to facilitate Make Shift Coffee Houses.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

Make Shift Coffee House


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