Several years ago, when writing about the hunger for meaningful conversation, Dr. Betty Sue Flowers recommended that organizations place red benches in public spaces. The idea was simple — by sitting on one of these red benches you were signaling to others that you were open to a conversation about something that really matters to you. The red bench became both a symbol to underscore the importance of conversation and an actual place where these conversations could occur.
Inspired by Dr. Flowers’ idea, iACT launched The Red Bench program in 2009 and it has quickly grown into a real community of sharing. We focus on issues that are addressed by all of the great wisdom traditions. In our first year we focused on topics like forgiveness, compassion and gratitude. Recently we have addressed “topical” subjects like the fear of Islam and have explored faith teachings about difficult topics like shame.
The Red Bench: Interfaith Conversations that Matter are centered on moderated small group discussions that are genuinely respectful and safe. No one has to be an expert – individual participants are invited to share from their personal experiences and listen with their hearts.