Michigander launches cross-generational 'discussion club,' aims to change lives through dialogue

The Venue aims to change lives 'one discussion at a time'
Posted at 8:54 AM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 09:01:03-04

(WXYZ) — It’s a simple concept that's had a big impact.

"We call it a discussion club," said Travis Furlow, author, founder of Paperclip Thinking.

And this discussion club, created by Travis, is called The Venue with a goal to change lives one discussion at a time.

"It's cool to see how different walks of life kind of just come together, and you understand so much more just from talking to other people," said Brecken Furlow, Travis's son who also participates in the club.

Sure, it may look like another Zoom meeting, but if you pay attention to what’s happening beyond the boxes ...

"I think that falling out of love is the genesis of some creation, because I know when I first had my job, I thought I loved my job, and then when my family came along, I found out I really didn’t know what love was about at all," said Ivan Doverspike of Dearborn during a Venue discussion.

You'll find that good conversation — and mentorship. Every other Wednesday evening for about an hour, local students, seasoned professionals and even retirees from all across the country hop on zoom to chat about, well, a lot.

"We start on one path and we usually end up seven or eight paths away, and that's where the goodness comes from, from where I'm sitting," said Travis.

From career preparation to personal growth to life transitions, everything is on the table.

"I'm always like stressed about, you know, being perfect for ... everyone and everything around me, but ... joining this group and talking to like the old people in this group, like retirees ... they kind of told me... it's OK to take that deep breath, you know, take a step back," said Jillian Nourie, a student at Ford High School.

Western Michigan University student Camryn Pieknik said they all quickly became comfortable with opening up to one another.

"It's just this free-fall of a discussion. You're just talking to all these people like you're in a room with them," said Pieknik.

And what they’ve found is The Venue isn’t just a space to help students, it’s a place to help everyone through the power of dialogue.

"Some of the parents have started to join. We've got some retirees that have started to join, and it's really become a cross-generational coaching forum, so everyone's giving everyone else advice. It's been pretty amazing," said Travis.

Travis said the idea for The Venue was born after a friend told him she appreciated the dialogue she was able to have with him, joking that he wasn't the show, he was the venue. The discussion club was born shortly after as a way, he says, to help people know they are not alone and that there will always be people who will listen.

"I just feel it connected with everyone on the call, even if I don't know them in person or not," said Nourie. "The bonds we have created, like just looking at each other on a computer is like way more powerful than ... some of my in-person relationships I have, and I think that's just incredible."

Travis said he has about 50 members of The Venue who pop in and out, and the invite is open to anyone 14+ who wants to join the discussion. He said for those under the age of 18, he will have a discussion with parents or guardians before allowing them to join.

The club is free. If you're interested in learning more, check out the details here.