Chocolate, Coffee, Conversation

What a delicious combination. One that provokes deep sensuous emotions and experiences. Experiences which take us out of the daily grind and lift us into a place of belonging and acceptance

If you can make one person smile, if you can lift them up when they feel lonely, isolated, depressed, something shifts in the whole universe.

Reaching one person is simple. This is what Chocolate and Coffee Breaks is all about.

Sharing a chocolate and cuppa with someone is part of our daily life. It transcends all cultures. In doing this, we meet each other as equals. There is something about sitting with someone with a cup in our hands and the warmth of the liquid that allows us to open up and speak with a little more freedom and compassion than we might otherwise have. It brings us into a place of listening, being ready to hear the other’s story. Being ready to open up to find out who they are and to find that sameness that you can connect with.

Share a Chocolate, Have a Cuppa,
Enjoy a Conversation, Change the World.

Beginnings

Chocolate and Coffee Breaks has evolved from the origins of Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony. Seeing there is greater potential and need for more than just a once a year event, we are moving into creating a culture of extending the hand of friendship through Chocolate and Coffee Breaks .

About Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony.

On the 15th December 2014, people were going about their normal day. Stopping by the Lindt Café on Martins Place, Sydney, was part of that. Here they enjoyed the coffee and the chocolate; some went on their way while others sat down and shared with a friend.  The last thing they expected was a gunman to walk in and hold them captive.  The gunman claimed he was doing it in the name of Allah. Sadly 2 innocent people lost their lives that day.

While we collectively held our breaths, I saw this little spark of beauty start to emerge. There was anticipation in the air. Muslims, especially in Sydney, were afraid of retaliation. They started to take off their religious garb and were uncertain if it was safe for them to go out. Then, slowly, quietly, a roar erupted. It started, with just one person who put the offer up on Twitter #Iwillridewithyou. Then again and again, people all over Sydney and Australia were reaching out and telling any Muslim that wasn’t feeling safe that they will ride the train, bus or ferry with them. They did not have to put aside who they are. We love and accept them as they are and this is not their fault.

I was so moved. This is the Australia I want to see and live in.

We will not bow down and respond in fear and hate. We will not go out and buy guns because our "freedom” is at risk. No, we choose to live in peace and love and enjoy the freedom that that brings us.

I was so touched by this I wanted to do something that would capture this moment

And so, Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony was born.

Sitting down over a drink whether that be coffee, tea or any other beverage is something that transcends all cultures. In our Australian culture, we often say “let’s have a coffee,” it doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to drink coffee, but instead we are going to sit down together and share. Share in food, drink and conversation. It is a simple act that we all feel comfortable with. Somehow having that beverage in your hands, and sharing a table, gives us a sense of comfort and ease with meeting and talking with someone else.  It takes the formality away and brings us into an equal footing. It says, “I am ready to listen and share with you.”

When we share with each other over these simple pleasures of life, something magical happens. We are able to break down barriers that divide us. Arthur Aron, Research Psychologist at the Stony Point University in New York, found that when we listen to someone for just one-hour, terrible differences melt away, not just to that person, but to the whole social group.

Sharing in Chocolate and Coffee breaks opens us up to creating communities where we all feel a sense of belonging, are accepted and provides us with an opportunity to contribute. These are essential parts of our being that we all long for.

While Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony started with the pretext of the barriers of religion and culture, Chocolate and Coffee breaks moves into the greater arena of breaking down prejudices of all types, whether it be religion, race, culture or even disabilities. Where there are any feelings of nonacceptance and misunderstandings, it is time for a Chocolate and Coffee break.

Join In

Chocolate and Coffee Breaks is designed to be simple so that anyone can participate. Simply invite someone different to you to share in chocolate, coffee and conversation. Sit down together and share your stories. Search for ways you are the same. Listen to your companion to understand who they are, what they have experienced and why they have been on this journey. When we are willing to listen with an open mind and an open heart, we are able to hear new things and see them in new ways. Here is where we break down barriers and just maybe, make new friends.

Research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely individuals in it are to be trusting, they are also less likely to be involved politically or communally. Without intervention, diversity seems to alienate people in general and contribute to segregation and isolation.

It has been shown that when diverse people have contact and form ties together, there is no detrimental effect. The research* recommended that community centres provide non-confrontational environments for people of a variety of backgrounds and interests.

When there is failure to achieve acceptance towards all members of the community and their diverse ideas and backgrounds, this leads over time to a fragmented society. Diverse communities offer a more open-ended engagement and opportunity to strike a balance between cultural autonomy and social solidarity.

Chocolate, Coffee and Conversation provides this ideal forum when people can easily interact with each other and start the process of acceptance, belonging and contribution. As a result, we build more cohesive communities where individuals work together.

There are many ways you can take part in Chocolate and Coffee Breaks. It may be a simple as reaching out to one person and sharing chocolate, coffee and conversation with them, or organising a large event.

To help you do so, we have created resources for you. These range from ideas, YouTube playlists, of videos, music and talks, to posters, cards and various other materials to make your Chocolate and Coffee Break a success.

To receive this resource pack, please fill in the following details and it will be emailed to you.

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Community

Join our on-line Community to connect with others, explore new ways of reaching out and of course, share our chocolate. Chocolate, Coffee and Conversation Community exist to unite people, by sharing in the simple pleasures of life - Chocolate, Coffee and Conversation - to break down barriers between cultures, races and religions to build strong communities where all can find a sense of belonging and worth.

Join together with us on Facebook

*Laurence, James. “Reconciling the contact and threat hypotheses: does ethnic diversity strengthen or weaken community inter-ethnic relations?” Ethnic and Racial Studies

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