Kitchen Conversations

Carlisle’s master planning process is about both a tangible goal – a final Master Plan report – and a process to get there. Like a trip, sometimes the act of traveling is as valuable as reaching the destination. We hope this will be true of Carlisle’s Master Plan, and we view the opportunity for engagement with fellow citizens to be one of the most important aspects of this endeavor.

In early 2020, just before the COVID pandemic became a major, world health concern, Carlisle residents held a series of Kitchen Conversations throughout town. The goal of these small group discussions was to engage residents and gather their opinions and thoughts about the future. We were trying to do something different than a typical public meeting or an impersonal survey. We were trying to go deeper, reach those who might not attend a community meeting, and explore how residents might view trade-offs and choices about the future of the town.

This effort reached a broad audience. Fifty-three conversations took place, with over 450 people participating. Most of these events were hosted in residents’ homes; they all involved quite a bit of legwork by both hosts and participants. Participants read the Kitchen Conversation Kits and materials provided ahead of time and thought about the information and focus questions. Hosts did a great job organizing their conversations, recruiting participants, and providing feedback. We are very grateful for everyone’s efforts and wish to extend a thank-you to all involved.

We have compiled most of the notes taken at the Kitchen Conversations into a large document available here on our website. A few conversations are not included due to technology issues or not receiving the notes. Special thanks to Gretchen Caywood, Assistant Planner for the Carlisle Planning Board, and Maureen Adema, Assistant to the Historical Commission, for their help in assembling this information.

As always, we would like to hear from you. Email us with comments at

KC Notes_03-05-2020