Thirsters: Yet another model for Cafe Discussions with a special connection to Peace Corps


Thirster meetings have been described as “a salon that comes together for camaraderie, beer, and to discuss issues of common interest.”

Dr. Robert Textor was a young cultural anthropologist who worked at Peace Corps in the very first year.  He created the “In, Up, and Out,” policy, helped to train Thailand I, and edited the classic “Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps.” When he moved to Portland, Oregon after his retirement from Stanford, he organized the Thirsters – A moveable Feast!  John Dougherty now co-coordinates this group and would be willing to help start a Thirsters in Washington, DC.

Here is the description by John Dougherty:

“Thirsters:  Originally organized by Robert B. Textor (Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Stanford) as a worldwide network in about 1997, Thirsters is an informal group of Peace Corps graduates, academics, public servants, business leaders, and other questioning individuals who discuss issues of peace, freedom, creativity, development, ethics, fairness, sustainability and respect for cultural differences.  Most often examining topics through a social science lens, Thirster meetings have been described as “a salon that comes together for camaraderie, beer, and to discuss issues of common interest.”  “Intercultural understanding” has often been identified as the primary concern of Thirsters.

Bob Textor’s invitation to Thirsters:  “We forgather at our Toping Tables EVERY Thursday of the year except holidays – rain or shine, earthquake, fire or flood — between 7 and 11 PM [presentations start at 7:30 PM].   Pop in when you wish, leave when you wish.  Join us at: MCMENAMINS BROADWAY PUB, 1504 NE BROADWAY (AT NE 15th AVE),   PORTLAND 97232.   Whenever logistics permit and mood conduces — which we hope will be often — please feel free to join us at our Tables.”

Thirster Custom for Paying for Food and Drink:  Instead of each Thirster paying the restaurant separately, we pay for food and drink by putting cash into a hat located on each table.  We  pool the cash to pay for the McMenamin’s bill.   Please not only put enough into the hat for your own food and drink (please check the menu price), but also add an extra 20-25% to cover the server’s gratuity and for the food and drink we provide to any presenter we may have.

Thirster announcement content reflects the information provided by individual presenters and speakers, and does not necessarily represent the views of Thirsters or Thirster co-coordinators.”


September 15th: Friends of Liberia – Stephanie Vickers

September 29th: El Salvador – Sher Davidson


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  • Hi – does anyone now if the dates above for Thirsters in Sept. are for 2017? Because those dates are Fridays, and the blurb says they meet Thursdays. Just wondering if the gatherings are still going on?

  • Carolyn, You are right, those dates are for 2016. I am going to print current – here Thursday, August 31, 2017 is an open discussion.

    THIRSTER MEETING FORMATS: Thirsters have several different kinds of meetings: OPEN DISCUSSIONS – where we discuss whatever cultural topic is on our minds, TOPICAL DISCUSSIONS – where there is a brief introduction to an identified topic for discussion, DATA DISCUSSIONS – involves the presentation of graphs and figures followed by a discussion and interpretation of the data, PRESENTATIONS – a more formal presentation of a topic for 20-30 minutes (often by visiting out-of-town Thirsters) followed by a discussion with the presenter, and SEMINARS – that ask attendees to read topical material in advance and come prepared to discuss that topic.

    – Thirsters meetings start at 7 pm with discussions, ale, wine, and food, and may continue until 11 pm.
    – Presentations or Seminars, if one is scheduled, start at 7:30 pm.
    – Topical, Data, or Open Discussions (when we don’t have a presentation) start when Thirsters find themselves compelled, usually around 7 pm or shortly thereafter.

    THIRSTER DISCUSSION LIST: This is an online discussion listserv where Thirsters can exchange ideas. Please contact John Dougherty at: if you want to join the Thirsters Discussion list.

  • Hi All,

    Yes, as of September 14th, Thirster meetings are going strong. We meet every Thursday evening (except for major holidays or ice storms) at McMenamin’s Broadway Pub in NE Portland.

    If you live in or near Portland, or are just passing through on a Thursday, please let me know and I would be happy to arrange for you to talk to the group about your Peace Corps work or other experiences related to culture.

    John Dougherty

  • KA Flick,

    John Dougherty is the coordinator for the Thristers’ group. His email is listed in the above comment. I would really encourage you to contact him.

  • Missing my Thirster evenings – and even more my Thirster friends. A big shout out to everyone keeping Bob’s vision alive. I hope we keep an empty seat at the table for Bob, Marsh, and all we have lost along the way.

  • Perhaps Thirsters should discuss Coup d’ etat at its next meeting.

    What we are witnessing is a previously slow-motion coup d’ etat which is now speeding up. I expect to awake some morning soon and be told that Trump has taken control of the Government. The Republicans will rejoice in their destruction of democracy which they have been aiming for since Barry Goldwater and Ronald Ray Gun. Meanwhile the Dems have been reluctant partners for forty years while dragging their feet trying to look innocent. The military will stand by idly, But will full-throatedly join the denunciation of our Democratic past when asked by he Repubs. and Trumpsters. The two century American experiment with democracy will be over. It was always on shaky ground because of the predatory, Capitalist economic system.

    “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
    Ben Franklin at the skeptical age of 82.

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