The Red Bench Project
The Red Bench Project at Chautauqua Institution was Inspired by the Red Bench Project of Interfaith Action of Central Texas. We are piloting this new initiative in 2023 by painting four benches red and placing them around the grounds (Bestor Plaza, Miller Bell Tower, Hall of Philosophy Grove, and Heinz Beach).
The goal of this initiative is simple: To encourage someone to sit and engage another interested person to join them on the bench and participate in dialogue – whether they be friends or strangers. We believe that creating intentional space for one-on-one dialogue to discuss the themes and topics covered via our speakers, teachers, preachers, performers, etc. is crucial to creating community within and outside our grounds. We also hope that practicing the lost art of dialogue will help us collectively hone and regain our skills to speak with others who might agree or disagree with us. We encourage you to give the red benches a try!
Learn more here:
Suggested conversation starters for the Red Bench dialogues (take turns in conversation):
- What have you heard this week that has resonated with you?
- What evidence provided by the speaker impacted you?
- What were you skeptical about?
- Where do we share areas of agreement, and where do we disagree?
- If we disagree, are there areas of common ground? Perhaps we share the same goals or outcomes for a problem, but have different paths to get there?
- Did the lectures inspire any need for action on your part, or consideration to approach the solution(s) in a different way?
If you participated in a red bench dialogue, please tell us how it went!