Café Status Updates...

Laughing Dog Café Status Update
-- On A One Year Hiatus!

As many readers are aware, the demand for a Science Café in our Central Vancouver Island Region is strong. However, securing suitable volunteers to establish an operating non-profit business structure for the Café has been much more challenging than anticipated.  It is  a bit disheartening that, according to the 2007 Canada Survey on “Giving, Volunteering and Participating”, only about 9% of Canadian volunteers serve on boards and committees compared to 36% of volunteers serving on boards in 2004...and this number continues to dwindle.  Without volunteers, many non-profit companies will never come to fruition, which is truly a shame as these volunteer agencies are often the backbone for progressive change and knowledge development. 

The concept of a Science Café is timeless and will not date itself or fade away -- people are always interested in science and technology, and hungry to learn more.   So the likelihood that a Science Café will develop within the Central Vancouver Island Region within the next few years remains not just viable but highly probable.

However, I plan to take a temporary hiatus from the Laughing Dog Café and focus on my other ventures - particularly our publishing company {Cranky Goat Publishing Ltd.}.

Should suitable volunteers step forward and commit to assisting in the development of a non-profit Science Café for the Central Vancouver Island Region, I will most certainly dedicate my time and effort towards making this happen.  Also, should anyone decide to pursue their own version of a Science Café concept for a broader demographic region, I am happy to assist and offer technical advice, but would not be a principle member -- as my focus is solely for our own Café in the Central Vancouver Island region.

Volunteerism is the voice of the people put into action. 
These actions shape and mold the present into a future of which we can all be proud.

Live Simply. Live Healthy. Live Happy...


What are science cafés?  Some Basic Facts Reviewed:

Science cafés are live, and lively, events that take place in casual settings such as pubs and coffeehouses, are open to everyone, and feature an engaging conversation with a scientist about a particular topic.  Typically they occur once a month, but frequency varies and often dependent on community interest and overall participation.

The science café format has spread across the globe like wildfire, adapting to different cultures and audiences. Whether it’s in a bar in London, England an Indian restaurant in New Rochelle, New York, or a coffeehouse in Squamish, British Columbia each café:

  • Encourages conversation, debate, and interaction.

Successful science cafés create a comfortable atmosphere where everyone joins in. They are not long lectures with a passive audience listening to an expert.  More and more, technologies such as podcasting and web viewing are being utilized as an adjunct to the informal conversations as a means of providing an enriched learning atmosphere. People the world over are hungry for knowledge and understanding of the rapidly evolving scientific and technological world we live in.

  • Reaches out to all audiences.

Science cafés welcome people who may or may not typically get involved with scientific discussions. They are not exclusive club meetings for scientists and science majors.  In fact, the main purpose of this grassroots movement is to help science become far more accessible to a much broader diversity of our population.  

Is there a single organization that oversees science cafés?

Science cafés represent a grassroots movement. They exist all over the world and can vary from place to place. Many science cafés in the United States and Canada draw inspiration from Café Scientifique, a network based in the United Kingdom. Even the names of science cafés vary, including Science on Tap, Science Pub, Ask a Scientist, and café Sci or even more individualized names such as  Laughing Dog Café.

Who can start a science café?

Anyone can organize a science café—you don’t have to be a scientist! All you need is a passion for science and a willingness to reach out and talk with people.

Who runs the website? is produced by NOVA scienceNOW, in association with Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. Created with the help and input of many science café organizers, it is intended as a community resource to support and encourage the growth of science cafés.

In 2006, was born! NOVA scienceNOW and Sigma Xi brought together 40 science café organizers from all over the United States who shared their insights, challenges, and vision. Everyone agreed that a unified U.S. website would help the movement grow.

NOVA scienceNOW and Sigma Xi organized a second science café conference at WGBH Boston in 2008 for 60 science café and Café Scientifique organizers. After this conference, an online network was developed to help café organizers share ideas, tips, and advice.

The science café movement has continued to grow. In 2011, NOVA scienceNOW and the Science Festival Alliance hosted the International Public Science Events Conference in Washington, DC. This two-day conference attracted more than 200 international and domestic science outreach practitioners.

To find out more, read about Cafés in the Press and Café Stories.

Laughing Dog Café is striving to be a Café Scientifique with some emphasis dedicated to exploring the concept and science of living a simpler, more sustainable and ecologically friendly lifestyle - particularly within the Vancouver Island region of British Columbia.

This includes examining sustainable business practices suitable for our region of central Vancouver Island; informed consumerism; environmentally friendly and ethical farming practices; habitat development and assisted ecological enhancement; exploration of regionally appropriate energy alternatives; sustainable housing initiatives and green building practices; as well as healthy lifestyle choices in general!

Laughing Dog Café is very much in its ‘early development’ phase and we hope to be able to create a vibrant and active Café Scientifique within the Qualicum Beach community soon - tentative target date dependant on securing suitable volunteers to establish a viable non-profit corporate entity as an umbrella agency for Laughing Dag Café.

Laughing Dog Café itself is not actually “selling” anything except a place to generate some thoughtful discussion around the latest science and technologies; provide a safe, comfortable and non-intimidating learning environment for all - with a non-academic emphasis; ensure an enjoyable and friendly atmosphere which is conducive to open and casual conversational dialogue; and generally adhere to the core principles of environmental sustainability.

Please note that Laughing Dog Café is not intended to compete with any other existing Café or related business within our region.  In fact, the hope and desire for Laughing Dog Café is to find a permanent location within an existing Café, Restaurant, or Pub from which monthly or bi-monthly venues can operate from.  We would reciprocate the kind gesture by ensuring the sponsoring venue is included within all publicity and advertisement; the Café would be operated in a professional manner with full liability coverage for the venue owner and all incurred cost covered so there would be no out of pocket costs for the venue sponsor other than providing a fixed location and monthly time allotment.

That’s it! There is no hidden agenda; no mass consumerism; no marketing gimmicks - just a place for Laughing Dog Café to have a voice ... our raison d'être if you will.

------------  Original Article Seeking Expressions of Interest ------------

A Science Cafe for Central Vancouver Island?

Steve Hulme is passionate about science, and he’s confident he’s not the only one.

The Parksville health care worker wants to know for sure however, before he puts that passion fully to work, organizing a science cafe for the Oceanside region.  Hulme, who works as a liaison with forensic psychiatric services, said he has always been interested in science and he would like to share that passion with other area residents by holding monthly science cafes.

The idea, he said, is to provide a venue where people interested in anything from environmentalism to subatomic physics can listen to speakers and explore ideas in an informal, supportive atmosphere.

“A science cafe is a grassroots organization that originally started in Europe, where cafes tend to be a little bit more educational or philosophically-oriented,” he said. “It’s not just a place to get a coffee and a piece of pie. It’s more a venue for discussion.”

When the idea came to North America about 25 years ago, he added, it took off like wildfire, with people hungry for open discussion of ideas with other inquiring minds.

“Canada is just starting to get on board,” Hulme said. “There is a variety of science cafes in Canada, most of which are tied to universities. The most prominent is the Simon Fraser University philosopher’s cafe.”

What he’s looking for, he said, is between 20 and 40 people who would attend monthly cafes to hear speakers talk on a wide variety of topics, before throwing open the floor to open discussion.

“I want to have an expert explain, in layman’s terms, something from science and technology and then see what discussion and questions people might have,” he said. “It’s amazing, the variety of insights you get and how dramatically they can change the flow of conversation. It’s a collective learning experience, using the Socratic method. It brings science to the average layman.”

That’s key, he added.  He doesn’t want people to think this group is for eggheads only.  Anyone with a sincere interest in science is welcome to attend.  “I really want to be inclusive,” he said. “I don’t want to exclude the backdoor guy who doesn’t have university credentials but is, for instance, designing vehicles. I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated. Our world is driven by technology and I think people need to be aware.”

Hulme, who has started several inventors’ groups in the past, said he is confident the knowledge base in Oceanside is considerable, with the high number of retired scientists, engineers and other professionals living in the area.  However, he knows from experience how much work it is to organize such an undertaking and he wants to make sure there’s enough interest in the wonders of the world — and beyond — to make his idea fly.  Anyone who would like to take part in such a group is asked to contact Hulme at

See Original Article Here:

We NEED Your Help...

The concept of a Science Café for our region is truly a passion of mine and if the public's interest is there, which it seems to be, I will gladly devote my time and energy to make this a successful, long term endeavour.  HOWEVER, to do this properly and ensure not only its initial success but long term viability, this proposed Science Café needs your help, as I can not accomplish this on my own -  I need at least two volunteers who are committed for the long term to help develop, organize, maintain and promote a Science Café for our region.

Our immediate need is to have two or more dedicated individuals who would commit to being fellow directors with myself in creating a non-profit, charitable organization from which Laughing Dog Café would operate under.  I would be particularly interested in anyone with a business background and familiar with the nuances of establishing a non-profit based corporate structure with goal of acquiring charitable status - but that in itself is not essential.

Should there be no one stepping forward to help organize this Science Café, or there simply is insufficient community interest to justifying pursuing this further at the present time, I shall place this project on hold and review it again on an annual basis.  It remains a passion of mine and my goal is to eventually have this for our Oceanside community, the sooner the better. A Science Café, organized well, can be a lot of fun; very educational; universally appeals to a broad demographic range; promotes individual intellectual growth; promotes and encourages science and technology based business ventures within our region; and, overall, a truly valuable asset to our Oceanside community.


Interested in helping to get a Science Café firmly established within our Oceanside region?  Have time, expertise, a venue location to offer or simply wishing to donate much needed funds?  Please contact Steve via our global directory which can be found at