Start a
Franklin-inspired
Junto Club

In 1727, Benjamin Franklin established a club called “the Junto” to debate all sorts of important topics of the day with friends. Gatherings were held in the evenings and organized around a list of specific questions about current issues that acted as conversation guides. Things got philosophical, creative, and sometimes controversial. 

The Junto Basics

You can follow Franklin’s lead and start your own Junto club and host friends and family members for regular conversations about democracy. Don’t be afraid to mix party lines. As George W. Bush and Michelle Obama showed the world, we can still nurture respectful friendships even if we don’t see eye to eye on policy.

Here’s what to keep in mind when planning your own Junto gathering:

  • Gather your group

    Franklin invited 12 people to his meetings, and we suggest aiming for a group of between 6-12 people — not so small that it feels like too much pressure to talk, but not so big that each person doesn’t have a turn to share.

  • Ground rules

    As a group, come up with a set of ground rules at your first meeting for discussion. Keep it fun and sporting. Agree what you’ll do if you need to stop the conversation from getting out of control.

  • Select your topic(s)

    Pick a single theme or select a variety of questions across topic areas to guide the conversations. You can work through our Conversation Starters or pick from the questions below to cover a range of topical issues.

  • Set the tone

    Make your gatherings warm and welcoming. Pick a comfortable setting, grab some great refreshments, and check in with people often.

  • Schedule ahead

    Keep the momentum going by putting the next Junto on everyone’s calendars before you say goodnight.

Questions to Explore

Below are questions to help guide the discussion at your next Junto gathering. These questions are updated regularly with new and timely topics. Sign up on our mailing list to get a list of new questions for your Junto gatherings at the end of each week.

• How does voting make you feel?

• What role do you feel protests play in preserving democracy?

• What do you do or say when there’s a disagreement at the family dinner table?

• If you were at a family reunion and brother Joe and aunt Cindy got in a screaming match and left the table, how would you explain that to the kids?

• If you were standing behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in line at Starbucks and had the opportunity to engage them – what would you say?

If you want to include family members between the ages of 8-12 into your Junto hangout, use the questions below for a family-friendly discussion:

• Why should you care about democracy?

• If you were president for a day and could sign three executive orders what would they be?

• Can you think of any examples of politicians actually working together?

• Do citizens generally do a good enough job of holding politicians accountable?

• If money weren’t an issue, how would you help others?

Share Your Junto Club Experience

Share your favorite questions from your Junto gatherings and your tips for others to start their own Junto club with us on social media with #JuntoClub and #DemocracyChats.