Absolutely Confabulous

The Wandering Minds Society wants D.C. folk to stop lecturing and start discussing

April 11, 2013
Wandering Minds’ guests discuss the history of political movements, at 201 Bar.
Wandering Minds’ guests discuss the history of political movements, at 201 Bar.

Nikki Enfield wants to hear what you have to say. So much so that she’s inviting you to a bar where the two of you can talk. Along with anyone else who shows up.

Enfield is the founder of the Wandering Minds Society, a discussion salon that got off the ground in January. Anyone interested in kicking around some ideas can show up for a themed conversation. This month there are two, the first on feminism and the second on guns (co-moderated by Express local news editor Clinton Yates).

“I’d been lamenting the fact that nobody talks anymore, that we talk over and past each other and nobody actually listens,” says Enfield, whose background is in electoral politics. “In D.C. there are lots of lectures and learning opportunities, but there’s not a lot of opportunity to discourse.”

We asked her how she overcame our city’s predilection for pontification.

Nothing Is Boring
Even topics that sound snooze-y can yield fascinating dialogue. She cites an “All Things Considered” piece about tomatoes as inspiration. “I was like, ‘What the [expletive] do I care about tomatoes?’ ” she says. “It turned out it was one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever heard.”

Get People Up To Speed
Discussion moderators offer a 10-minute introduction to the subject. “We want everybody to start on the same page,” Enfield says. “Then we open it up to questions.” She often asks the first question to rev up the room.

Don’t Get Discouraged
“It’s slow going,” Enfield says. “People aren’t used to being able to lend their two cents.” But the discussions, once they kick off, are unpredictable, and all the better for it.

Enfield says she hasn’t yet had to deal with people standing on soapboxes or being rude to one another.

“I’m very apprehensive about the gun discussion,” she says. “But I’m glad to have a forum where people can express themselves in person.”

What is Feminism?: The Madhatter, 1319 Connecticut Ave. NW; Sun.,4 p.m., $9-$12; Wanderingmindssociety.com. (Dupont Circle)
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Kristen Page-Kirby · April 11, 2013