Using seven design principles and a simple method, the World Café is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter, offering an effective antidote to the fast-paced fragmentation and lack of connection in today’s world. Based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life, the World Café is more than a method, a process, or technique – it’s a way of thinking and being together sourced in a philosophy of conversational leadership.

A deeper understanding of the World Cafe offers a view that goes beyond a method, no matter how skillfully utilized, to the recognition of conversation as a core meaning-making process. The natural cross-pollination of relationships, ideas, and meaning as people move from one conversation to others enables us to learn, explore possibilities, and co-create together. From this perspective, conversations are action—the very heartbeat and lifeblood of social systems like organizations, communities, and cultures.

  1. What does public safety mean to you?

Conversations on the topic of what public safety means appeared to recognize the subjective nature of safety. Explicit connections between what safety feels like and what safety is were made, demonstrating an understanding of multiple lived realities and social locations. Safe communities are rooted in feeling safe, highlighting how various social positions can impact one’s perception of physical, mental, and emotional safety. Sense of belonging, access to social membership, and social inclusion were all highlighted multiple times. Public safety was also discussed in reference to adequate and accessible housing, food security, safe infrastructure, healthcare, and other basic living needs. Discussions of what public safety means also directly referenced institutional structures – laws and social norms, government and social accountability (including trusted methods of reporting), available and accessible reliable and relevant resources, education, and prevention work. Lastly, public safety also refers to equal opportunities, social equity and equal rights, a common vision of purpose and community, and open and transparent communication and partnerships amongst all stakeholders.

  1. How could you or your organization contribute to enhancing public safety?

Networking and collaboration was the primary identified organizational contribution to enhancing public safety recorded in conversations. Increasing the awareness of available programs and resources, in local communities and beyond, to form partnerships and foster cross-sector communication is one way organizations and individuals can enhance public safety initiatives. It was also highlighted that this would help reduce or eliminate competition amongst community organizations. Individuals also noted that reducing stigma and prejudice, through mentoring, modeling/transparency, and awareness, can enhance social inclusion, provide authentic representation of diverse groups and voices, and combat negative stereotypes and perceptions of service users.

  1. Where are there knowledge gaps to enhancing public safety that would benefit from new community-researcher collaborations?

A duplication and fragmentation of services was identified as a primary area of needed improvement. More specifically, a lack of awareness of currently available resources and services amongst organizations and a lack of understanding of how to support rather than compete with others was identified. Related discussions included a need to foster better communication structures amongst all stakeholders, assess and address regional divisions, and establish stronger relationships between service providers, policy-makers, and applied researchers. This also related to the mentioning of a lack of wrap up or follow up services –  a lack of ability to follow clients amongst organizations to track progress or status. Secondly, the knowledge exchange gap was referenced multiple times – there is a significant gap in the translation of research to practice. This refers to the lengthy wait time between research being conducted and the translation to practical guidelines or on-the-ground practice. Relatedly, the lack of transparency and accessibly in research, specifically access to research findings, was noted as a barrier to implementation. Additionally, gaps in research funding, in research that considers various socio-economic identities and community relations (and a genuine understanding/consideration of both), and in measurement or evaluation research (cost-benefit analysis on current projects, initiatives, or practices) were identified. Lastly, it was mentioned that there is a lack of emphasis on preventative rather than reactive work in practice. Though this concept is prominent in research, there lacks an understanding of the barriers to implementing evidence-based prevention practices on the frontline. 

  1. In the next five years, what is the most important research that needs to be done?
  • In the crime prevention sector, ensure that various resources are available.
  • How can prevention at the level of child intervention prevent entry into the correctional system?
  • What is the cost and effectiveness of judiciarisation of petty offences amongst homeless/mental health population?
  • What are the reasons why community collaborations are so difficult to implement? What are the key components that make it work in practice?
  • What are the causes and solutions to crime amongst the First Nations populations?
  • Cost-Benefit analysis of crime prevention [activities] in New Brunswick.
  • How can we align best practices amongst client transition, case management, and criminogenic programs?
  • Comment l’héritage de l’esclavage et de la colonisation intervient-il dans la construction identitaire des jeunes noirs du NB? La question de l’identité racial est malheureusement occulté dans le système éducatif et les jeunes noirs du NB ainsi donc ils construisent leur identité raciale tout seuls sans l’aide des parents ou de l’école, or de la société.
  • Explore and define what services are available in all regions that are essential to vulnerable populations.
  • Understanding the subjective narrative of the people in our community.
  • What community-based resources are needed in New Brunswick?
  • How can we improve poverty?
  • How can we improve the communication and accountability for NGO’s & Government agencies, and provide space for cross-sector collaborators to meet on common ground?
  • What do community members want for social programs?
  • Knowledge-exchange – how do we decrease the Research to Application delay?
  • How is the demographic change (from north to south, aging, etc.) going to affect our societal needs and ability to meet these needs?
  • How can we improve awareness and accessibility of difference resources in the community?
  • Research on the effects of community in urban centres in NB?
  • Continued research looking at best practices for crime reduction in society and NB, possibly looking at the impact of mental health screening assessment for offenders. Most important – How can we advocate for the return of mental health court in Saint John?