Coffee House Discussion Evenings - What's it all about?
"The 'Universal liberty of speech of the English nation'...was the quintessence of Coffee House life."
G. M. Trevelyan
During the 17th century the local coffee-house was the centre of urban life, entrenched in the social, cultural, commercial, and political life of the towns and cities. A coffee-house was a gathering place where any man who was reasonably dressed could smoke, drink coffee, read the newsletters, or enter into conversation with other customers; gossip, discussion, deliberation, dissent and sedition were exchanged and debated around innocent looking tables. Coffee-houses worried Charles II so much he tried to ban the sale of 'coffee, chocolate, sherbet and tea' in coffee houses and private homes. There was a huge outcry, Charles decided to back off and he never mentioned it again. Coffee-houses played a key role in the explosion of political, financial, scientific and literary change that took place in the 18th century; the stock market, insurance companies, political parties and the scientific symposium should all give thanks to the coffee-house.
Continuing this tradition the Green Party now sponsor Stroud Coffee House Discussions, a relaxed, informal discussion of important issues of the day in convivial surroundings, not forgetting the yummy cakes and coffee (females welcome in the 21st century version). These hugely successful and popular talks are held on the fourth Friday of each month (except August and December) There are usually one or two speakers who each give a short introduction which is followed by informal discussions and then a chance to discuss more in the main group and with the speakers.
Why not join us and have your say or just come an listen, you'll be very welcome.
The cafe doors open at 7.00 to reduce queuing time for coffee and cakes. Usually there are two speakers who each give ten minute introductions. This is followed by informal discussions with more coffee and cake then a chance to discuss more in the main group with the speakers. These hugely successful and popular talks are on the fourth Friday of each month (except August and December) and are an initiative of the Stroud District Green Party.
Previous talks included:
Friday March 22nd 2013: Can Customer Boycotts Work?
- Can people power make a change?
- What works, what doesn't?
- Banks, Amazon, Starbucks, Tesco, Isreal, Lockheed Martin - what are the priorities?
- Is Fairtrade and local a viable alternative?
Friday February 22nd 2013: Are We Still a Nation of Animal Lovers?
- Is pet ownership good for pets?
- Is our relationship with animals mutually beneficial?
- Is animal cruelty on the rise, or are we learning to be more compassionate?
- Vivisection: should there be a complete ban?
Friday January 25th 2013: Benefit Cuts - are they fair?
- What are the changes?
- How will they affect individuals?
- Are the cuts going to help the economy?
- Will more people be on the breadline?
- What are the alternatives?
Friday November 30th, 2012: Can Red be Green?
- Can a political party be socialist and green at the same time?
- What are the challenges for bringing red and green together?
- How do the existing parties measure up?
Friday September 23rd, 2011: Faith and the Planet
- What do different religious traditions and world views teach us about the environment?
- Do indigenous peoples have a different perspective?
- What are the different religions doing now?
Friday, 23rd July 2010: Do 'Cuts' Make Sense?
Friday 25th June 2010: A new motorway service station near Brookthorpe?
- Do we want it? Is it needed?
- What are the planning rules it will be decided by?
- Will it really be green or are the developers' plans greenwash?
- Will it stimulate or stifle our local economy?
Friday 28th May 2010: What PR?
- What's the point of proportional representation (PR)?
- What re the different types of PR?
- What would be the best for us?
- What should we do now to get the change we want?
Friday 26th March 2010: Should we vote Green? David Drew MP and Martin Whiteside debated and answered questions on a wide range of issues to a packed event.
Friday, 26th February 2010 - Citizen's Income
- How does it work?
- Is it a scroungers' charter?
- Would it end the benefits trap?
- Why are the Greens keen on it?
- If it’s so good why aren't all the other parties in favour?
Friday 27th November 2009 - Is the Stroud Pound Working? About 30 people joined the evening. See report here.
Friday 23rd October 2009: Planning: Where do we want houses, wind turbines and jobs? Get involved in planning Stroud to 2026! Do we need so many new houses? Should new housing be in one place or dispersed around existing settlements? Should there be wind turbines in the AONB? Where should we create new jobs?
Friday 25th September 2009 - Defence for Peace? Do the policies of the main parties add-up? They will all be represented. Should we replace Trident? Should we be in a military alliance with America, Europe or not at all? Should conflict resolution be taught in schools? This meeting will feature Stroud's Green Parliamentary candidate Martin Whiteside, MP David Drew, Councillor Dennis Andrewartha for the Lib Dems and Conservative Parliamentary candidate Neil Carmichael. The meeting moved to The Space to accommodate the larger audience. Report on this here. For more information about Gloucestershire Peace Week, see http://www.peace2gether.org/
Friday 24th July 2009 - Population! Are there too many people? Do a few people just consume too much? Can we limit population growth without restricting human rights? How many people can the planet support?
Friday 26th June 2009 - Who can we bank? What does the credit crisis tell us about where we should keep our money? Are mutual building societies and cooperative banks better? Should banks be nationalised?
Friday 24th April 2009: Where have all the bees gone? Is it disease? Pesticides? Climate change? Something else? What is the future for agriculture and the environment with fewer bees? What can we do about it? Report here.
Friday 27th March 2009: Who can we bank on - mutuals and cooperatives? What does the debt crisis teach us about where we should keep our money? Have mutual building societies and co-operative banks fared better? What should we do differently in the future? This event was postponed and has been rescheduled for June.
Friday 27th February 2009 - Energy from the Severn: Can it be done without an environmental catastrophe? Barrage? Underwater turbines? Lagoons? What are the different options? What’s the Government doing? See report on the evening here.
Friday 23rd January 2009 - European Union: Friend or Foe? How does it work? How can we use it? How can we improve it?
Friday 28th November 2008 - Save Our Seeds - the threat to the World's seeds. Bring seeds to swap with others. Why is saving seed important? What is wrong with hybrid seeds? Can we develop locally adapted plant variaties?
Friday 31st October 2008: Art and Sustainability. In what ways can art contribute to sustainability? Can visual arts create cohesion within a community? How important is universal availability of art? Does an artist have a responsibility to society? Some info here.
Friday 26th September 2008: Recession - is it all bad? Are there good sides to a recession Can a recession be managed to reduce the bad and increase the good? How will it affect us in Stroud?
Friday July 25th 2008: Sex Work - should it be legalised and taxed?
Friday June 27th 2008: What farming? What food? Vegan? Vegetarian? Carnivore? - what’s the best for our health, the planet and farm animals? What is biodynamic? Are farm animals necessary for our landscape and small farms? Over 60 people squeezed into take part - see report here.
Friday 23 May 2008 - Individual Carbon Rations - the smart way to stop climate change? Kevin Lister, local climate change campaigner was one of the speakers.
Friday 25th April 2008 - Biofuels - friend or foe? Colin Hygate of Stonehouse-based Greenfuels, Dave Cockcroft, Town Councillor and John Meadley introduced a very lively discussion to nearly 40 people.
Friday 28th March 2008 - Mental Health - is our economic system making us mad? Over 60 people squeezed into the cafe for a lively discussion after hearing 6 brief speakers - see Philip Booth's blog on 6/04/08 for more.
Friday 22nd February 2008 - 'What to tell the kids about their environmental future' Climate change, Peak Oil, Scary Future - how do we talk to our kids about these? Sustainable lifestyles for families living in a consumption dominated society - how do we negotiate the balance?
Friday 25th January 2008 - Waste! Can we stop landfilling? Do we want a massive incinerator in Stonehouse? How far can reducing reusing and recycling go? See a summary of the local Green party waste policy here and see report of the evening here.
Friday 23rd November 2007: What might a Green Transport System really be like? Read notes from evening here.
Friday 26th October 2007: How can we achieve real change - politics? direct action? pressure group? Over 30 people heard three speakers: read more here.
Friday 28th September 2007: Is Capitalism Sustainable? Molly Scott-Cato, Green party Economics spokesperson, Neil Carmichael, Conservative Parliamentary candidate and Katy Albiston, Politics Lecturer enjoyed a lively discussion with more than 75 people - report here.
Friday 22nd June 2007: Water Crisis? 5 speakers on international and local perspectives and a fascinating discussion (2 speakers with the low flush toilet): report here and blog comment here.
Friday 25th May 2007: "Does the media enslave or liberate us?" Does the 'free' press exist? Can public sector broadcasting be trusted? Who controls what we read, hear and watch? Is the internet/www different? How best to use the media to create a fair and sustainable world? Report here.
Friday 27th April 2007 - The perils and possibilities of Nanotechnology. Chris Brain and Dave Cockcroft (pictured) present the compelling arguments for and against. Whose afraid of the big grey goo? Is the grey goo scenario real? Do advanced technologies have a place in a greener world? What can nanotechnology do for you? Can nanotechnology make solar power affordable for all? New pollution, new health issues are the risks too high? Chris Brains notes are available here. Report here.
Friday 30th March 2007 - Should human population be limited? How many people can our planet support? Is it about numbers or lifestyle? When is population control racist? What are the solutions? Illness meant speakers were unable to attend so meeting was cancelled. However at the last minute some thought the discussion should still go ahead: 14 people turned up, including a women from Gloucester from the "Optimum Population Trust". Despite being the smallest discussion yet (usually 40 plus people) a stimulating debate occured splendily chaired by Clive Phillips from Wotton-u-Edge.
Friday 23rd February 2007: What is real education? A fascinating discussion with Albert Lamb, who used to work for Summerhill, a Steiner school educator and a home educator in Stroud.
Friday 26th January 2007: Image and Identity. Freedom to wear the veil, freedom not to wear the veil? Wearing religious or political symbols? Are dress codes oppressive? Three muslim women talked openly and frankly about their choices and experiences along with Peace Campaigner Jeff Coates about his experiences selling white poppies. See report re exhibition in Gloucester and report of evening here.
Friday 24th November 2006: Good Food! Homegrown? Farmers Market? Or Organic? Fairtrade? Vegetarian? Cruelty Free? What's the best? How to kick the supermarket habit? Read more about the 6 speakers and beer sampling here.
Friday 27th October 2006: De-throning 'King car' - Cars: freedom to move or a blight on our communities? Shared Space - a radical new way of reclaiming our streets and reducing accidents. What can we do locally to get the balance between cars, people and the environment? Colin Knight, Head of Highways in Bristol and involved with the proposed Shared Spaces project in Stonehouse and Green party Cllr Sarah Lunnon presented the arguments and led the discussions in a lively debate.
Friday 22nd September 2006: Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. What are the underlying causes of the conflict? Is there a just and sustainable solution? A fascinating and lively debate with nearly 40 people including contributions from people from Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Cllr Brian Oosthuysen on behalf of the local Amnesty International group.
Friday 28th July 2006: Animal Rights? What rights do animals have? Presentations from Compassion in World Farming and Gloucestershire Animal Action led to a lively discussion. More info under News for 29th July.
Friday 23rd June 2006: Has Stroud a future? Will Stroud become a speck on a globalised landscape wracked by shortages and conflict? Can Stroud pioneer approaches towards a sustainable and better future? What can we do now to make a difference? This evening was part of the national Coffeehouse Challenge organised by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) to promote discussion and debate. Over 40 people turned out - report coming soon.
Friday 26th May 2006: Is the Severn Barrage a good idea? A Severn Barrage might generate 6% of UK's electricity from the tides. A green solution to our energy needs? A potential disaster to a unique tidal habitat? Are there cheaper and less damaging ways to use the tides? Very brief summary of evening with over 25 people coming soon. Read Green party discussion paper.
Friday 28th April 2006: People Trafficking - What causes people to leave their home country? Why would a woman chose to be trafficked? Why is people trafficking the most profitable illegal activity in the UK today? Should people be free to live and work anywhere in the world? People trafficking is Britains most profitable 'trade'. More details.
Friday 24th March 2006: Should there be any limits to freedom of speech? Glorifying terrorism, sacrilegious cartoons, denying the holocaust, inciting hatred, political censorship and more. More details
24th February 2006: Does science have all the answers? Should the NHS provide alternative' treatments? Can we solve environmental problems with science and technology alone? Homeopath and author Peter Adams and Chris Brain opened the discussions (Photo right - table discussions). See news release and report.
25th November 2005: Nuclear power: solution to climate change or more problems? A report covering the arguments of the evening and a news release are both available on this website.
28th October 2005 - ID Cards: nothing to hide, nothing to fear? Talks from David Gould from the national organisation NO2ID, Martin Whiteside from the Green party and David Drew MP (pictured right). Report of the evening
23rd September 2005 - The End of Oil? Is Peak Oil the greatest threat to our lifestyle as we know it? The most likely cause of a future (and final?) war? The solution to global warming? Over 50 people crammed into the recently expanded cafe for an introduction to what Peak Oil is and what it might mean. A lively discussion followed. More about Peak oil. And read George Monbiot on Peak Oil.
22nd July 2005: Is Britain a Democracy? Mary Southcott (pictured right with talk organiser Chris Brain), Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, on the Management Committee of Make Votes Count, co-author of the book "Making Votes Count" and Vice Chair of the Electoral Reform Society joined Janet Bailey from the Gloucestershire Green party to open the discussion on whether Britain is a democracy. Read more about the evening and about the campaign for democratic reform.
24th June 2005: Is it possible to make poverty history? Before the G8 leaders meeting, Live8 and the huge Make Poverty History march in Scotland, the Coffee House Gathering opens the discussion with talks by two experienced aid and development workers, asking, 'Is it possible to make poverty history?'
Read more following the G8
Join us: 7.30-9.30pm at Star Anise cafe, Gloucester Street, Stroud (behind Old Painswick Inn)