‘Paris in Georgia’: political salons spring up across US in push against Trump

In the suburbs of Minneapolis–St Paul, friends gather around a backyard campfire to discuss how to turn their Donald Trump anger into action.

In San Francisco, California, an all-female crew eats Middle Eastern food and reads the constitution.

In Decatur, Georgia, a silver bell gets rung if anyone in the group of mainly suburban moms starts speaking off-topic during their monthly get-togethers.

Political “salons” are popping up in living rooms, bars and backyards in response to the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Some have wine; some have a set agenda; all are scheming how to fight against this presidency.

Salons first gained fame in France during the Enlightenment, with citizens gathering to engage in political conversations and arguments; they acted as a place to plan revolution and discuss philosophy. The concept has continued ever since, with the author Gertrude Stein and the former secretary of state Madeleine Albright both known to have hosted them.

“I used the term salon to evoke old gatherings of artists and intellectuals in a hostess’s home,” said Mary Huber, founder of the Progressive Salon of Decatur. “Yep, Paris in the 1920s, recreated here in Decatur, Georgia,” she quipped.

The 2017 salon is more often marked by groups of friends and neighbors organizing specific political actions, from raising money to educating each other about the refugee ban, while hanging out and making new friendships.

“I used to meet friends at the gym; now I meet them in brainstorming sessions,” said Huber.

At 7pm on a Sunday night once a month, a crowd of about 20 people pile into the semi-retired attorney’s lounge room, with the dining chairs set up around the couches in a semi-circle.

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