Wednesday Night #1000 – The Survivors

Written by  //  May 2, 2001  //  Reports, Special Wednesdays  //  No comments


May 2, 2001 – The Wednesday Night Millennium
“The achievement of 1000 Wednesday Nights is something of which we are all proud – not just you two. The sometimes amusing, always exciting, scintillating and informative Wednesday Nights are essential to knowledge for us all. I can remember when there have been crowds, I can remember when snowstorms have reduced participation to 6 people. But we all wanted to ensure the momentum never stopped -a matter of pride. Congratulations to you both, but congratulations to us, too!” — Stephen Kinsman

The Invitation

The Survivors
A search of the Internet for “Survivors” brings a range of applicable titles including:

  • Alicia Can’t Survive Wednesday
  • Surviving & Thriving
  • Survivor(s) vs Friends
  • Breaking the Commandments

Alicia Can’t Survive Wednesday
Maybe Alicia has problems, but with the exception of some Thursdays, most of us have survived Wednesday and enjoyed the experience! We of the Wednesday Night Salon have our own tales of Survivors, – 20 years’ worth, – from the earliest days in 1981 when a half dozen individuals gathered around the dining room table for late dinner with Carl Beigie. The dinner concept did not survive.
Soon, we progressed to the living room for a restrained gathering, a glass or two of wine and some fine discussions of the Market in the company of brokers and economists – and always Carl Beigie.
As we chatted, it became apparent that the Market was not the be-all and end-all. The Dismal Science could only survive a few minutes without references to politics, international business, socio-cultural concerns and even more esoteric fields. Furthermore, the participants would not survive two hours of the Economy. Louis Rukeyser was replaced as our guru by the likes of Jane Jacobs, Noam Chomsky, Norman Davies and (bless him!) Rex Murphy.

Surviving & Thriving
Thus the Wednesday Night Salon grew from a handful of (mostly) Canadian specialists in one or two fields, summoned by The Voice of Lady Hamilton, to the vast array of polyglot experts in virtually every field now summoned from around the world by e-mail, admittedly a less intriguing messenger than that wonderful Voice! There have been other changes. We used to start at 9 and sit down for discussion at 10 until a handful of rebels changed the hour while Diana was away. Those same rebels now rarely arrive before 9.
Thanks to Sam Totah‘s initiative, after many years of being strictly off the record, Wednesday Night is now ably chronicled for publication on the Wednesday-night.com site by Herb Bercovitz with occasional help from Gerald Ratzer, Reverend David Oliver, Bob Stewart, Michael Judson, and others, but the chronicles are generally without attribution to individual speakers.
Several years after the Salon began, we realized that “the best part of Wednesday Night is Thursday morning” and consequently began to encourage guests to bring business associates and significant others with whom they might marvel the next day at who said what… “did s/he really say that?”
And the topics – who’d of thunk 20 years ago that we would have survived the Free Trade Debate (NAFTA) when opinions were so sharply divided, to arrive at the consensus during a recent debate on FTAA that there is more to our survival than freer trade. Or that Wednesday Night would have developed a social conscience? (Thank you, Margaret Lefebvre and cohorts!). Even our most conservative guests have been tainted with liberal views (thank you, Julius Grey ). And it’s a long time since the Wednesday Night Town Hall meeting when Ron Walker confounded the “facilitator” by saying that Water would be the principal issue of the 21st century!

Breaking the Commandments
There are few “shalt not’s” on Wednesday Night -everyone knows them and the few transgressors are reminded quite sharply. Very few have ever been asked to leave, but it has happened that someone was voted off. Sometimes, the one-topic-one-conversation rule is honoured in the breach, but that usually happens when there is a small group of Wednesday Night Irregulars – should we say Survivors?

It is the topic, not the individual, which is the focus of the discussion
One conversation at a time
Everything is off the record

Wednesday Night is designed to send you home saying
“I never thought about it (the topic) that way before”– it is NOT a networking group for the furthering of one’s business UNLESS it is a new project or literary/artistic endeavor.

Surviving & Thriving (reprise)
Wednesday Night is self-renewing. Friends bring friends. Very occasionally (and usually far-away) friends send friends.
Thanks to the core of Survivors and the ever-expanding, ever-changing new resources, the dynamic of Wednesday Night is never the same and always fascinating. We wouldn’t vote any one of you off our island!

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