Make Shift Coffee Houses are not debates. We’re not trying to decide the single correct answer to any question. At a Make Shift Coffee House we don’t have to agree. We’re not trying to find common ground or solve problems as a group.
Rather, the purpose of a Make Shift Coffee House is to help people understand each other across differences. UNDERSTAND each other. That’s all.
We use topics to launch and frame our discussions -- and to keep things interesting -- but the most important question at any Make Shift Coffee House is always “Why do you believe that?” Each topic leads us to that question.
And whatever you believe, we want to hear it. Especially if you think you have a minority opinion on ANY of these questions below, we want to hear what you think. And why.
Here is a list of topics that we know to work well.
Why don't you wear a mask? Why do you wear a mask?
People seem angry, even adamant, on both sides of this issue. Why do people feel so strongly? Let's find out. This conversation will not be about the science of COVID or the science of mask wearing. We're not looking for a debate about facts. Rather, we want to hear YOUR version of why you believe what you believe. Whatever that is.
What does it mean to be patriotic?
How do we measure how patriotic a person is? Is a natural born citizen more patriotic than a ‘New American’? Is a person in uniform more patriotic than a person in shorts and flip flops? Is a veteran more patriotic than a war protester? Is it patriotic to speak against the government? Is it okay to not recite the pledge of allegiance? Is it okay to take a knee during the National Anthem? When you think of a “truly patriotic act,” what are you thinking of?
Why is gun freedom, or gun control, so important?
This Make Shift Coffee House will be a conversation about the role of guns in contemporary American society. What’s right and/or what’s wrong with how we handle guns in America today? Why do you believe what you do? What experiences from your life have led you to your beliefs about guns? If there’s one thing about gun laws you could change, what would it be? If there’s one thing you could change about people attitudes about guns, what would it be? Share your thoughts on the role guns play in our society, and learn what your neighbors think.
What role should the federal government have in health care for Americans?
If you believe that all Americans should get free access to basic healthcare paid for by the government, come tell us why. If you believe that health care for Americans should be privatized and not be provided or paid for by the government, come tell us why. If you believe something in between, come tell us about it. And why.
What does The Constitution mean to you?
How does the Constitution affect your daily life? Is the Constitution being applied appropriately today? Should the Constitution be changed in any way? How should the constitution apply to: Firearms? Healthcare? Free speech? Immigration? States’ rights? Separation of Church and State? Join this conversation to explore these questions and your own beliefs about The Constitution.
How should the government respond to coronavirus? Right now.
In this Make Shift Coffee House we are going to discuss if the government should be more restrictive, less restrictive, or do things differently than what’s happening now. Are there things that you think the government should do more of in response to coronavirus, or less of? What should be the federal-state-municipal balance of authority? Join us to tell us what you think the government should do right now, and why you believe that. And learn what other Americans believe.
From where should we get our energy?
In this Make Shift Coffee House we are going to discuss questions like: What types of energy are good and bad, in your opinion? What are our individual responsibilities? What responsibilities should industry have? What should be the government’s role in steering, or not steering, our energy choices? Join us to tell us why you believe what you believe about America’s energy choices. And learn what other Americans believe.
When should the government hand out money? And when is it not okay?
When should the government help poor people? Single parents? People needing healthcare? How do you feel about government tax breaks for corporations? For job creation? Real estate development? New product development? Where does personal or corporate responsibility end and government responsibility take over? Should the government use entitlement programs or tax breaks to decrease income inequality? Or increase income inequality? Join to share how you formed these opinions, and hear from other Americans.
What should be the government's role with regard to the economy?
Should the government loosen regulations in order to encourage economic growth? Which regulations should be loosened? Should the government do more to protect public health and/or the environment regardless of economic impact? If so, what should the government do more of? What should the government do to redistribute wealth and reduce economic disparity, if anything? These are some of the questions we hope to address.
When should America intervene in the affairs of another country?
What is our moral obligation overseas? Is it ever okay for the US to intervene in a foreign election or topple the current ruler? How do you feel about government foreign aid? For famine relief? For military build-up? For disease prevention? Share your views on America’s role abroad, and learn from others.
What does it mean to you?
Which is the most important freedom in your life? Has your freedom ever been endangered by a different belief? Is it okay if your idea of freedom collides with your neighbor’s? Have you ever felt an absence of freedom? Was it justified? Are there freedoms you are most afraid of losing? And why?
What should be the rightful role of government?
What role should government play at local, state, and a national level? What is the right size of government? How should government affect your daily life? What role should government play in: Immigration? Healthcare? Education? Climate change? Social justice? Business regulation? Other issues? In this Make Shift Coffee House we will explore these questions, not debate them.
What do we love and hate about our current ways of voting?
In this Make Shift Coffee House we will explore the central role of elections and how people think differently about voting. Why do some people treat voting as a sacred honor and others blow it off as useless? Why do so many people not vote and check out of politics? Should voting be a requirement? Should we change our system of voting in America? What do YOU think about voting. And why? And why do your fellow Americans believe what they believe? Let’s find out.