Sharing stories, fostering conversation at Coffee Club
Twice a month on Friday mornings, Geri Isaacs moderates a conversation with other adults during the Woodford County Library’s Coffee Club. Authors, artists, politicians and people from many other walks of life come to the community room and share their stories. “Everyone’s got a story. I truly believe that,” Isaacs said, “but sometimes they don’t (want to) tell their story …” So she must convince those reluctant speakers to share their stories – knowing everyone’s life lessons and experiences will stimulate a conversation. Speakers soon realize other people are interested in what they have to say. Isaacs said she sometimes has to restrain herself from asking too many questions because she wants Coffee Club to always be a conversation involving many people with differing views. “I try to do enough to keep a conversation going,” she said, “but I try not to interject myself too much. “I want it to be their conversation.” Library patrons and staff will sometimes suggest a speaker because they have an interest in that person’s story. “I also try really hard to get … people from the community” to share their stories at Coffee Club, Isaacs said. Tim Magill, executive director of Life Adventure Center, came to Coffee Club and shared his passion for helping military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. “Several of my vets in the audience came to tears with his presentation. It was that moving,” said Isaacs. More recently, Woodford County Middle School physical education teacher Melody Hamilton talked about having a balanced approach to being healthy July 26. “I take a broader view of health,” said Hamilton. She then asked Friday Coffee Club attendees for their thoughts and suggestions on the components of intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical and social health. One aspect of social health that troubles Hamilton, she said, is how our attention to the present “is always pulled back to this device,” holding her cell phone and emphasizing its usefulness. She said a cell phone should not become such a distraction – especially prevalent among younger people – that it limits their face-to-face conversations. And, she said, being bored can stimulate creativity and an appreciation for life’s simpler things like the natural world around them. She also lamented a lack of intergenerational conversations in today’s society, which means “we’ve lost something,” she said. This Friday morning at 9:30 in the community room of the library, Woodford County artist Ray Papka will talk about creating encaustic paintings (through a process of layering melted wax) and using altered books for his artwork. “I try to foster an environment (during Coffee Club), where everyone’s comfortable and they feel welcomed,” said Isaacs. “… I want them to be open to meeting newcomers,” who are encouraged to join the conversation. Coffee Club began on a Friday morning in January three years ago, with “about a couple dozen people,” Isaacs said. “So it was kind of a sign that maybe the time was right” for an ongoing program that stimulates adult conversation on a variety of topics.