The pandemic, the crisis in many geopolitically diverse areas and the resulting migration flows, environmental and economic changes extend the range of social challenges to be faced by welfare states. We can observe several paths of change and adaptations that differ across countries, territories and policy fields. Vienna is a highly international city and provides an excellent venue for the ESPAnet Conference, with its multiple historical and cultural attractions, as well as a consolidated tradition of engagement in the provision of social policies.
At Vienna Coffeehouse Conversations, strangers sit down to eat or drink together, with a menu of questions to ask each other. The questions lead to stories among participants, and the evening is an adventure in storytelling. We want to revive the spirit of debate that existed in the coffeehouses 100 years ago.
The events are in English to allow people from all over the world to take part. After a brief introduction from us at Whoosh, you meet someone and enjoy fine Viennese food in a relaxed atmosphere.
Questions range from 'What was your best-ever mistake?', to 'Who has been your mentor?'. They are easy to understand, but difficult to answer. Previous dinners have led to weeks of email exchanges, where the pair continued to discuss the ideas presented. Other questions explore travel, friendship, work and inspiration.
Our aim is to sit down visitors with locals, one to one. For us, visitors - or outsiders - include musicians, conference attendees, resident diplomats and cultural travellers.
Look at the Tischgespraeche page on our site to learn more about the concept of a conversation meal, which we first staged in April 2012 (in German, at the Wien Museum).
The Vienna Coffeehouse Conversations build on Oxford University professor Theodore Zeldin's Conversation Meals, which have taken place as part of street festivals, in art galleries from London to Singapore, and at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The Guardian visited this event in 2018, and wrote some lovely analysis of their experience. Over 70 international publications have reported about the concept, with the latest Conde Nast Traveler, in December 2021.
Reviews of Coffeehouse Conversations on Trip Advisor
'I never wanted the evening to end.'
'This man, in two hours, expanded my world view in ways I'm still processing.'
'So refreshing to do away with the "small talk" and talk freely with nothing off the table. Wish we had it where I live in NYC.'
'The idea of the coffeehouse meeting between "locals" and "strangers" is truly unique and very worthwhile.'
Georg Coch-Platz 4, 1010 Wien
The Café Ministerium is a plush local favourite just off Vienna's Ringstrasse. Voted the most popular coffeehouse in the city centre, civil servants from the surrounding ministries love to lunch there on red velvety seats and marble tables. The Ministerium also serves as the 'extended living room' for a few regulars' tables and club meetings.
The café is on the Ring, just up the road from the Museum for Applied Arts (MAK). You can choose what to eat or drink on the evening.
Please register by sending Eugene an email, saying which date you will attend, and where you are from: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cost: €11. Please bring cash, since the cafe does not accept cards.
Couples and small groups are welcome.
This idea can be adapted for birthdays, conferences or office parties. Please call Eugene for more details.