Moderator profile

Brian Fraser aims to build better communities one conversation at a time

Brian Fraser. Photo by Greg Ehlers.

“There are fewer and fewer spaces for the kind of respectful dialogue that Philosophers’ Café is committed to fostering and provoking.”

Years ago, Brian Fraser created a personal vision statement as to how he wanted to approach life: participate in provocative conversations that generate flourishing communities. He now uses this same approach when moderating Philosophers’ Cafés.

How did you get involved in Philosophers’ Café?

I'd been to several Cafés before I started moderating. Randall MacKinnon, who moderates the West Vancouver Memorial Library Cafés, asked me if I wanted to do a Café on conversations and I said yes. I work as a minister half-time for Brentwood Presbyterian Church and I have a consulting company called JazzThink that focuses on how you think about the conversations you have—which connects with Philosophers' Café.

Can you tell us more about this connection?

In a sense, we kind of co-create our realities one conversation after another. If you pay attention to the tone, sound and substance of your conversations, the way jazz musicians pay attention to the sound and substance of their music, you can think about how you can create better and better communities one conversation after another. For me, it's by participating in provocative conversations that generate flourishing communities. Those are the words that I've chosen if I start to feel like I'm getting scattered, or like I'm moving into contention or criticism. I'll just take a couple of breaths and pull myself back to those core values, and my behaviour changes.

What topics do you like to discuss?

We tend to focus on topics that have to do with issues around the meaning of life. How your basic core values affect your participation in various social issues. We tend to bring it back to core values like, what are the variety of worldviews, the variety of philosophies, what is the wisdom that you love and how does that illuminate various perspectives in our society?

What do you hope attendees leave with?

To be honest, more questions—but questions that may be more clearly defined. [They've] spent an hour and a half listening and throwing out suggestions, contending for a particular position or finding out how critical [they] are of someone else's position. And hopefully, that's helped clarify another level of understanding and curiosity...providing that safe space for those differences and mixtures to be explored is really important. I think there are fewer and fewer spaces for the kind of respectful dialogue that Philosophers' Café is committed to fostering and provoking. There are fewer places where that can happen.

“There are fewer and fewer spaces for the kind of respectful dialogue that Philosophers’ Café is committed to fostering and provoking.”

Upcoming Philosophers’ Cafés moderated by Brian:

There are currently no upcoming cafés hosted by this moderator.

Photo by Greg Ehlers.