Bite The Ballot and Starbucks host France’s first ‘Democracy Cafe’ in Lyon

Bite The Ballot and Starbucks have partnered for the third year to encourage young people to talk about some of the issues most important to them over a coffee.

The first French ‘Democracy Cafe’ took place at Starbucks in Lyon, and brought together 30 people from the area to talk about the French education system, following the Ashoka Changemaker Education Summit.

The DeCafe (‘Democracy Cafe’) event was an opportunity for students, teachers and those from the community to have open conversations about the future of education in France. The group got involved in speed debating, talking through a variety of different topics including creativity in learning, cooperation versus competition and future career opportunities.

Data collated by Verto, an interactive game sent out to attendees before the DeCafe event, revealed that only eight per cent of those that attended the DeCafe believed schools allowed for inventiveness. When asked which one thing the attendees would change about the French education system, 67 per cent said they would want more space for creativity and play.

In the 17th century, members of the local community would gather together in coffee shops to debate and discuss the important issues of the day. Following the event, 90 per cent of attendees said they thought a coffee shop was the ideal place to comfortably debate with a variety of people.

Mike Sani, CEO of Bite The Ballot said, “At Bite the Ballot, we wanted to reinvigorate this lost tradition of discussing important issues in coffee shops and create a space for discussion and opinion sharing, building bridges between different members of the community and encouraging fresh perspectives. In 2016, we partnered up with Starbucks to create an event that would do just that. We called it DeCafe (Democracy Cafe) and working closely together, to date we have hosted 60 events.”

Christophe Veaux, District Manager of Starbucks France said, “Starbucks has always been about creating a safe and welcoming space for people to come together, so we’ve been delighted to offer our store space to Bite the Ballot and welcome in those from the local area to talk about an issue that’s really important to them.”