Saturday, October 28, 2023

Need a speaker? Invite me!

Online with John Wren. Call (303)861-1447

 Need a speaker for your next chamber, club, or association meeting?

 You choose the topic, of course, or just have me give this talk to your group:

 Ladies and gentlemen, gather 'round for a story that's part inspiration, part serendipity, and maybe just a pinch of cosmic humor. It all started on a Friday night, shortly after the world-changing events of September 11, 2001. Just the date, 9/11 for most of us brings back memories of a world gripped by...... uncertainty, a mood as somber as a rainy day in November, and me, your humble storyteller, in search of answers and a way to bring people together.

I stumbled upon a book titled "Bowling Alone" by Robert Putnam. It was all about the decline of social capital and civic engagement in America. I thought, "Well, this isn't exactly light reading for a gloomy weekend," but it got me thinking. We needed to find ways to empower and connect our community. So, I rolled up my sleeves and dove headfirst into my reading, determined to find a glimmer of hope.

Then, as if the universe itself had a plan, the very next weekend, I discovered another book, "Socrates Cafe" by Chris Phillips. This book introduced me to the concept of philosophical discussions and how they could foster meaningful dialogue and connections among people from all walks of life. It was like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds. I was captivated by the idea of bringing people together for open, thoughtful conversations. It was as if the universe had whispered in my ear, "John, this is your calling." And so, the idea of the first Socrates Cafe meeting in Denver was born.

With the dawn of the internet age, I saw an opportunity to spread the word about this newfound initiative. SBCC became the first business bulletin board on the Denver Freenet. We posted announcements and invitations to join the first-ever Socrates Cafe meeting in Denver, and let's be honest, it was a bit like shouting into the digital abyss. But we had hope!

After what was to be the fateful Friday after 9/11 was on the calendar in early August  approached, there was a mix of anticipation and apprehension in the air. Would people really be willing to engage in philosophical discussions during such turbulent times? I couldn't help but wonder if our gathering would be as empty as a coffee pot on a Monday morning. But the night arrived, and to my astonishment, a diverse group of individuals gathered in a small Denver coffee shop.

They brought with them their thoughts, concerns, and a shared desire for meaningful conversation. I introduced the concept of Socrates Cafe, and the discussion flowed like a river. What happened that evening was nothing short of magic. People from different backgrounds and perspectives engaged in thoughtful, respectful dialogues, finding common ground and understanding despite their differences. It was as if the universe had orchestrated this meeting to remind us that, in the end, we're all in this together. Our involvement in these gatherings solidified SBCC's commitment to strengthening the voice of the common man. The Socrates Cafe became a beacon of hope and unity during a challenging time, and it resonated with people across Denver.

As the years rolled on, SBCC continued to host Socrates Cafe meetings, expanding our reach and impact. These gatherings didn't just foster dialogue; they empowered individuals to become more engaged in their communities and advocate for positive change. But that's not where the story ends. We took our mission to the media, with editorials in the Rocky Mountain News, articles in the Denver Post, The Colorado Statesman, Denver Catholic Register, and suburban newspapers, like the Arvada Sentinel and the Villager Newspaper that Denver leaders in Cherry Hills and Greenwood Village read, and even a few TV appearances.

I shared our vision of empowering the common man and strengthening the voice of small businesses. Now, as I stand before you today, our journey continues.

We have a new mission—a mission to find local chambers of commerce across the country and cooperate with them to restore the caucus-assembly system for nominating to the primary ballot. It's a bit like bringing back the old family recipe for a special occasion—a recipe for grassroots democracy. And here's where the cosmic humor kicks in.

I'm extending an offer to be your free entertainment at your next chamber, club, or association meeting. Yes, you heard that right, folks. If your budget for speakers is as tight as a jar of pickles, fear not! I'll come share this story, with all its twists and turns, with your group. So, if you're interested in a bit of humor, inspiration, and a whole lot of heart, give me a call at (303) 861-1447. Leave a message, and I'll get back to you faster than you can say, "Let's make a difference together."

Because when it comes to strengthening the voice of the common man, we're all in this story together. Thank you, and may your journey be filled with laughter, purpose, and unexpected twists of fate!

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