The Cultural Salon
A Platform for Community Dialogue
(Starting Winter 2020)
I have always found it intriguing that we gravitated to have Syriana hosted in Old Ellicott City (OEC) and specifically in the Walker-Chandler building, an iconic place in town. Dissecting into this gravitation, it was easy to recognize the pull of OEC resemblance to our hometown of Swaida, Syria. However, I have come to realize a much deeper reason: what emotionally connects us with our roots in Syrian intimately connects us with the very roots of our new community in America.
The stones of the Walker-Chandler building were laid ca. 1790 just when those of our Constitution were. As one of the largest building in the old town, it served as an informal inn embracing visitors of Ellicott City, as it does now. In such a dramatic context, we daily live the dialectic of the past and the future, traditions and change, conservationism and progress, and cherish the value of both ends of each of these dichotomies. It is hard, in such an atmosphere, for serious conversations around these issues not to arise, with and among our patrons. However, the graciousness of basic human connection over food and drinks manages to soothe the hardest conversations down.
The cultural salon at Syriana is a way to channel these conversations and the overwhelming thirst we sensed in our community for a platform that enables sharing a deeper look at the mundane, exploring new horizons, and to revisiting ones ideas rather than bunkering behind them; for an opportunity to come to the table feeling safe not aiming to show why we are right, but rather to explore what we might have gotten wrong. Throughout history, such venues were both the stronghold of traditions and the catalyzer of progress. As our communities face deepening and widening schisms, these communal gatherings are needed now more than ever.
Brainstorming about the format with our patrons, we envisioned two types of social activities :
- Community Forum: A regular gathering with social dinner followed by a dialogue and a discussion. Topics would focus on original takes on relevant issues from local community topics to world affairs, from scientific discoveries to ancient philosophical and theological questions that haunted humanity.
2. Jeffersonian Dinner-styled gatherings of small focus-groups of individual with common interest and different perspectives engaging in egalitarian, facilitated discussions on a routine basis . special focus whether it is a discipline of study or a social challenge.
We eagerly look forward to this experiment and hope it will enrich your lives and bring out community even closer.