Face to face

A local group is making an effort to renew the dwindling art of real face-to-face conversation.

January 5, 2011


USA Today last week proclaimed 2011 “The Year We Stopped Talking.” Well, that’s about right. We are staring at computers, iPhones, BlackBerrys and TV screens at an alarming rate.

Ron Helmick of Lawrence is trying to change that, and we applaud his effort.

“The conversations we used to have on the front porch have moved to the deck that’s in the backyard, and now the conversations on the deck have moved to the Internet,” Helmick told a Journal-World reporter for a Jan. 2 story.

Helmick has built a teepee on his property east of Lawrence and invited people over to have a chat about the day’s news. No electronics are involved. Guests just bring an article they have clipped out of a newspaper, a real clipping, not a printout from a website.

The teepee gatherings, which occur in a circle around a fire pit, are called Newspaper Church. Each participant takes a turn describing his or her article, then conversation ensues.

The idea is simple, almost elegant. Maybe we should each make a resolution this year to host a chat, a face-to-face chat, without any gadgets.


Eybea Opiner 7 years, 2 months ago

Go out to eat some lunch time or dinner time. Drop by HyVee at breakfast time. You'll find plenty of people talking face to face.

Sitting in a tepee, pretending to exist in times past doesn't in any way authenticate communications. It's more, "look at me, look at me, I'm talking to a friend or neighbor."

livinginlawrence 7 years, 2 months ago

I get your point, but a little determined to criticize, eh? It seems all that really matters is that Mr. Helmick has satisfied his craving for more together time, and like minds will surely follow.

By the way, how exactly might one effectively "authenticate communications" anyway? Because I'd like to know that my communications are authentic...I'd hate to find out that all I'm really doing is saying "Look at me! Look at me!" when I attempt to engage a fellow in conversation.

pace 7 years, 2 months ago

I thought the tee pee and fire sounded fun, I am tired about how stuffy people are. Any thing that doesn't look like a Leave it to beaver rerun seems to rile some people. It seems like a petty thing to get angry over. I guess it is the anti education, anti everything trend of the moment.

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