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PVP Village Voices

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Behind the Scenes of a Village Salon
By Village Voices
Posted on 5/4/2021 10:07 AM
Author: Rosalba Trujillo, PVP Village Intern

When I was invited to a PVP Village ‘Salon’, to be honest, I was very confused. Why was I given the task to write about people having their hair done? I had zero expectations about the event, but once it began, I was quickly captivated by this month’s topic ‘Changing I to We’. The conversations quickly began to flow, and everyone had very insightful points to make about the topic. As the Salon continued, it made me wonder, how did this idea originate? After talking to the facilitators of the Salon, Kathy Swank and Judy Bayer, and with the previous facilitator of the Salon, Norm Zareski, it was easy to notice why this event quickly became popular within the village. 

Norm suggested to the program committee the idea of having a discussion group to talk about controversial subjects. He called this “intellectual brawling”, especially since some of the topics may be considered sensitive in today’s society. Norm mentioned to me that one of the rules was to “leave political correctness at the door”, meaning that there is no correct political opinion. I agree this rule is important because a discussion should not lead to arguments. It seems like lately it has become less common to have an open mind about a person’s opinion and only focus on your own. 

After Norm stepped down, Kathy and Judy stepped up to continue what was now called the Salon. Kathy mentioned how difficult it can be to plan a topic a month ahead because of how much is going on in the world. Sometimes Kathy and Judy do not decide a topic until two days before the event! Since there are constant new events happening in today’s society, the topic is always subject to change. Besides current events, Kathy and Judy also shared that the topic of discussion can also be decided by the participants! 

By changing the facilitator, there has been a change in the environment at the Salon. Norm commented on the difference in the Salon and stated, “Then, it was more organic, controversial, and less structured that conversations could mutate. Now, it is more organized, directed, and focused on the specific”. It would have been great to witness for myself how the Salon was when Norm would facilitate the sessions but attending my first Salon meeting was definitely an experience I will never forget. 

Before the pandemic, the Salon would meet at either Kathy or Judy’s house. Half of the participants would bring hors d’oeuvres and the other half would bring wine. Some participants would not eat dinner on days of the Salon in anticipation for the event! One village member, Maria Ashla, stated how the Salon is so popular that if you don’t register on time the event will reach full capacity. Ashla believes that the Salon became popular in the village because of the ambiance, food, topic of conversation, and the comforting experience. Everyone wanted to participate, learn, and share their opinion about the subject. Regardless of who was facilitating the Salon, whether it was Norm or Kathy and Judy, it was said that both facilitators were prepared, organized, and provided the group with lots of open-ended questions. 

In my own words, I can describe the Salon as a sanctuary for individuals to come together with an open mind and discuss sensitive subjects. In today’s society, there is so much hatred and negativity that it seems like people tend to avoid these conversations. What I liked the most about the Salon was that there was so much respect between the opinions of others that you did not have to walk on eggshells to speak. I was able to feel the respect through a computer screen, I can only imagine how much respect is present during an in-person Salon session. 

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