Thierry Bonfanti. Psicologo di formazione

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Caffè DibattitoDebate Cafè

In 1980 the first “café philosophique” (philosophical café) was founded in Paris, in Place de la Bastille. It was a public philosophical debate that took place in a bar and was open to everyone, and the subject was chosen by the host. This Café was at the crossroads of two French traditions. On the one hand the literary salons, and on the other, the meeting between bars and literature, that was particularly fashionable in Paris during the Surrealist period. This first “café philosophique” was extremely successful and today, thirty years later, there are more than one hundred Philosophical Cafés in the French capital, and nearly every large or average-sized city in France has its own Philosophical Café. Together with my friends Michel Lobrot and Nicole Habrias, in 1995 we had the idea of offering a different version in the spirit of Non-Directive Intervention, and the result was the Café-Débat (Debate-Café). What is it and how does it differ from the Philosophical Café? The first difference is that the subject is chosen by the public that very evening, following the democratic procedure of voting. The second is that the subject is not necessarily philosophical and no particular knowledge is required to participate. The Debate-Café is carried out in such a way that everyone can express themselves, drawing on their own experience. In the Debate-Café you can talk about yourself, your own experiences, or topics from everyday life. This therefore allows much wider participation. Indeed, those who speak at the philosophical café are often people with a certain philosophical culture and used to speaking in public. The Debate-Café is more democratic. The word is returned to the citizens. It is a place where one’s own ideas can be expressed and compared. It encourages meetings between people, dialogue and social ties. It stimulates reflection. It represents a factor of aggregation and the fight against isolation. It takes part in the cultural life of the city.

Experience in Italy

When I moved to Trento from Paris in 1998, I wanted to 'import' this experience in the Trentino region. I started the first Debate Café in Italy at the Pasi Bar in Trento. It began in September 2001 and lasted two years, meeting once a month and a summer break in July and August. It met with great success and only came to an end owing to personal reasons. In September 2005 I decided to revive the Debate Café at the Barycentro in Trento. With the help of two cooperatives, the Delfino Cooperative and the Samuele Cooperative, who took care of all the advertising and logistical aspects of the initiative, once again those who wanted to meet once a month to meet and discuss all kinds of topics had the opportunity. I then went on to found other Debate Cafés. In 2007, I started a Debate Café at the Samba Caffè in Bolzano. This was followed by the MART that began in March 2007 in the Le Arti cafeteria. Finally, in January 2008 an Intercultural Café in Bolzano was set up in the Caffè Plural, using the same methodology of the Debate Café. At the moment, the Rovereto Debate Café has moved from the Le Arti Cafeteria at the MART to the old Caffè Bontadi, which offers us an elegant, well-kept venue.