Salon Forum™...Women Gathering for Connection and Personal Enrichment

Welcome to the hottest idea in how to connect with terrific women like you in Southern California!  Did you know that in 18th and 19th century Europe, women held salons for stimulating people to share thoughts and views, on literature, art, politics, and more?  Now it has been re-invented for you.

Salon Forum™ is a community created to bring women together  to listen to stimulating, thought-  provoking speakers, socialize, network, relax and enjoy themselves.  All that, plus good food, wine, in an inviting Los Angeles home conveniently located between the City and the San Fernando Valley. 

Our busy lives and intense work schedules don't always allow us to meet new women, for socializing or networking, and hopefully to establish some meaningful connections.  Salon Forum™ taps into a need most of us share to stay connected, stimulate our brains, consider new paradigms of thought and broaden our experience.

So, join the Salon Forum™ community of women  to enrich your life and in turn, enrich others! 

How It Began…

The idea for Salon Forum™ was conceived in 1990 when its creator, Barbara Goldberg, said to herself, “I know so many terrific women—wouldn’t it be fun to bring them all together in my home for an evening every couple of months, have a guest speaker on a topic of interest and feed them?"

A busy professional and personal life prevented that from happening until 1993.   At that time, the women’s group she was part of sought more information about hormone replacement therapy and found someone knowledgeable to speak on the subject. We thought, why not share this with our friends?  After hosting the talk, and getting a taste of how joyful it is to bring women together, she said, “I can’t procrastinate any longer.” So Salon Forum™ was born.


Barbara Goldberg in Istanbul, 2006.

And now…

Salon Forum™ has no membership fee or organization to join.  It is simply a community of women who are all on a mailing list and choose the events they want to attend.  Invitations are sent via Evite.  About 40-50 women attend each event.

Events are held on different weekday nights, beginning at 6:30 P.M. for dinner, with the speaker starting at 7:30, and ending about 9 P.M. The location is off Mulholland Drive near the 405 Freeway.

The cost of each event is $30, which includes a buffet dinner, wine, and speaker, payable via check or cash, no credit cards.

Since 1993, the Salon Forum™ mailing list has grown from fifteen to over 800 women in the Greater Los Angeles area. Most, but not all, who come are 45+.   Salon Forum™ has never been actively promoted until the L.A. Times covered it in January 2007.  It grew because women loved it and brought their friends, who then brought their friends and even their adult daughters.

Some of the spouses got curious and a little jealous that they were left out of something that sounded intriguing.  In mid-2005, the first couples Salon Forum™ took place, and it was such a success that the tradition continues once a year.

To experience Salon Forum for yourself contact Barbara Goldberg at: 310-476-7318 or researchbg@cs.com


Mission Statement

Salon Forum is a community of women in a highly fragmented world, a place where women can experience enjoyment, personal enrichment and growth.  The goal of Salon Forum is to create a warm, relaxed atmosphere in a private home for women to come together and connect with other women.

Salon Forum offers the opportunity for members to meet new people, re-connect with those they know, in an environment that supports the sharing of ideas, opinions and, most basically, who we are as women.

In a very low-key way, it offers the potential for connections that may lead to friendships or new business opportunities. The program is designed to provide a speaker at every event who addresses a topic of relevance for new learning and personal growth.

It provides a unique environment where women can be emotionally enriched via socialization and also intellectually stimulated from conversation with other women and the speaker’s presentation.

Topic areas:

  • Personal Improvement
  • Aging
  • Health/Medical
  • Psychological
  • Financial
  • Personal Appearance
  • Relationships
  • Home
  • Travel
  • Social Issues
Some specific topics:
  • Traveling Happily Ever After!
  • Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World
  • The Secret Language of Chinese Face-Reading
  • Looking Great At Any Age
  • In Her Hands: Craftswomen Changing the World
  • How to Write an Advanced Health Care Directive
  • Fathers' Daughters:  Transforming the Father-Daughter Relationship
  • Personal Safety At Home & Abroad
  • Investing in These Uncertain Times
  • Eldercare for Dummies
  • Exploring the Inner Landscape
  • Nutritional Know-How
  • Celebrating Women
  • Traveling to Exotic Places
  • The Myths & Realities of Aging
  • Decorating on a Shoestring
  • Are you Listening?  Really Listening?
  • Viva Colores: The People of Guatemala
  • Insurance Made Interesting
  • Creating Meaning in Mid-Life & Beyond
  • Re-Inventing Yourself
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Get Organized!
  • Grandmothers, Mothers & Daughters
  • Buying Art
  • Self-Discovery Through Your Dreams
  • Keeping Your Brain Fit
  • Speaking with Confidence
  • Paying Attention, Getting Attention
  • Creating a Great Doctor/Patient Relationship
  • The Secrets of Stress-Free Entertaining
  • Yes, You Can: A Positive Approach to Grieving/Bereavement
  • What's New in Plastic Surgery
  • In Pursuit of your Passion
  • Optimal Aging
  • Scams Unmasked
  • Resiliency
  • The Pros & Cons of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Speakers have included nationally known…

John Bollinger, founder of Bollinger Capital Management & his famous analytical tool, Bollinger Bands, on “How to Invest Your Money”

Marisa Weiss, M.D., oncologist specializing in breast cancer & founder of BreastCancer.org on “Creating A Great Doctor/Patient Relationship”

Paola Gianturco, photojournalist & author of “In Her Hands: Craftswomen Changing the World,” “Celebrating Women” and “Viva Colores”

Rachelle Zukerman, gerontologist, author of “Eldercare for Dummies” and “Young at Heart: The Mature Woman’s Guide to Finding & Keeping Romance”

Dr. Joe Hardy of Posit Science, the company known for its cutting-edge tools to improve cognitive function, on “Keeping Your Brain Fit”

Salon Forum in the Los Angeles Times: “Meeting of the Minds”

By Barbara Beckley
April 10, 2007
                       
   

A Salon in Bel-Air takes up the grand tradition of women assembling for intellectual stimulation.

I'd read about them. The glorious 18th and early 19th century salons hosted by French women of means, who invited favored guests and renowned experts into their opulent private rooms (i.e. "salons"), for enlightened conversation.

But I had no idea they existed today. Until, that is, I walked up a wide, split-level stone path to a pair of elegant double doors that gave me entrée into one of Los Angeles' longest-running salons for women. Against the backdrop of this spacious, elegant home, I experienced a truly energizing and eye-opening evening. It was informative, sophisticated and lots of fun!

"It's such a joy to bring women together and see what happens!" said Barbara Goldberg, who founded Salon Forum 14 years ago, as she welcomed me into her home at a recent gathering. "It gives me an incredible high to see everyone actively engaged in animated conversation, learning from one another and from the speaker."

Though there are no age parameters, most women who attend Salon Forum are 45 and older, Goldberg noted. "When women are along in life, a salon is a wonderful way to meet new people — it makes life richer in a meaningful way."

A Powerful concept

Audrey Stein, 71, of West L.A., who's been attending Salon Forum for seven years, agreed. "It's exciting at this stage of our lives to meet new people and develop new friendships," said the retired director of the Wellness Community-West Los Angeles and founding associate director of the UCLA Center on Aging.

"I love the whole gestalt of the salon; of getting together with interesting and interested women," she added. "While we look forward to the speaker, Barbara has to pull us away from our conversations to adjourn to the living room for the program."

Marilyn Jellison, 62, of Pasadena, echoed Stein's sentiments. "The salon concept is so powerful. It's rare to find a setting that is intellectually stimulating and filled with such bright people with wide-ranging interests. The fact that it's all women is an extra bonus," the recently retired healthcare executive added.

The value of females gathering for purposes of intellectual stimulation in an intimate setting has been recognized throughout history. When Socrates was holding his conversations under trees and at dinner parties with the males of Athens, As-pasia, the mistress of an Athenian statesman, gathered her own groups of educated women in conversation. The practice was later picked up during the Renaissance in Germany, Italy and Holland, according to Gary Kamiya, a weekly columnist and the former executive editor of Salon.com.

But the golden age of salons, he wrote in a story on the website, was a "two-century flowering of female-led discourse" led by middle-aged French society women from their bedrooms "that not only represents the epitome of French style, but helped to create an ideal of civilized behavior that still stands."

Not only new friendships, but also new business opportunities flourish among the modern attendees at Gold-berg's salons. She recalled one woman who went from small-time caterer to major event planner through a Salon Forum contact.

Like the grand salons of Europe, Salon Forum is always held in a private residence — Goldberg's Bel-Air home, but takes place in her public rooms — the kitchen, dining and living rooms. "A home provides warmth, comfort and relaxation," Goldberg said. She enhances this feeling by serving wine, soft drinks, coffee, tea and a sumptuous buffet of hot and cold dishes and decadent desserts.

For me, the buffet alone was enough to spark animated conversation. Plate in hand, I instantly began meeting wonderful women among the 40 or so at a recent salon: a Broadway producer from New York, who was in town for meetings; several women from Pasadena ("I'm from Pasadena, too," I chimed in); a fellow journalist, 68-year-old Joy Nuell of West Hollywood; Laura Feit, 61, a West Los Angeles nurse who's been attending since 1993; and first-timer Lina Sanossian from Sherman Oaks.

It's not just animated conversation that accounts for the longevity of this salon. Goldberg always has a speaker — and not just any speaker. "Usually it's a woman, but not always, and many are nationally known. "I'm very particular about choosing a diversity of topics that are informative to women of a certain age," Goldberg said. "My guests always come away with some nugget of information they can use to improve their lives."

I had to agree. From the speaker, Santa Monica's Dr. Cynthia Watson, a preventative-medicine guru, I learned an important fact about vitamins that I later incorporated into my health regime.

"Life is about learning," Nuell, a former KFWB news radio reporter, told me, as we worked our way around the food-laden dining room table. "I love to learn —that's why I've attended Barbara's salons for years. Like me, Barbara has such diverse interests, and she is so good at attracting interesting people. I always know I'll enjoy the evening."

A learning experience

A recent standout salon for Nuell was a presentation by "Celebrating Women" author Paola Gianturco, an international photojournalist, who documented female artisans in 12 countries who are changing their cultures through indigenous crafts. Another memorable talk Nuell remembers from 2004 was on end-of-life issues by Barbara Carpenter, who has lectured at Stanford University.

Stein said she is a regular attendee because "I learn things I ordinarily might not look into, such as February's salon on ‘The Secret Language of Chinese Face Reading."

Jellison enjoys the subject diversity for two reasons. "The salon offers topics that expand the way you view the world, regardless of age. Plus, you don't see the same women at every salon. Different women come for different topics."

Just as the 17th century salons in France were a reaction to rigid court protocol, the recent resurgence of salons from New York to Pasadena is a reaction to our frenzied 21 st century lives, Goldberg said. "We're all so isolated. We work hard and then cocoon at home to rest; it's very difficult in L.A.'s urban sprawl to meet people, and I wanted to change that."

'Bringing women together'

Goldberg didn't realize she was creating a salon when she "had a vision of bringing women together" back in the early 1990s. "I was blessed with knowing women from many different walks of life, and I thought, ‘These women should know one another.' "

But how? "I wanted everyone to have a good time, but I also wanted them to experience personal growth," recalled Goldberg, who has had her own advertising research business since 1972. After careful thought, she devised the concept of gatherings in her home with a speaker. She named it Salon (people coming together in a home) Forum (a learning experience). In 1993, she opened her doors for the first time.

Through word-of-mouth, the Salon Forum mailing list has grown to include 200 women from throughout greater Los Angeles, and Goldberg looks forward to welcoming more invited guests. "Has your salon changed over time?" I asked. "In essence, no. The women feel so at home here, it's evolved into a community," she replied.

Her latest endeavor is to encourage women to form their own salons. The newest pages on the Salon Forum website, www.salonforum.org,explain why salons are a good thing for the salonnière — "I feel I'm making a difference in women's lives" — and tips on how to start a salon.

"Will you attend future salons?" I asked newcomer Sanossian, as we poured our last cups of coffee from an urn on a sideboard.

"Absolutely!" the 55-year-old medical executive enthused. "I didn't know what to expect and was favorably surprised. I've met so many charming and accomplished women. The setting was beautiful, the food was excellent and the speaker was an eye-opener."

For more information on Salon Forum, call (310) 476-7318 or       visit www.salonforum.org

There is no membership fee, but the cost is $30 for each salon and advance reservations are required.

Freelance writer Barbara Beckley, is based in the Pasadena area and writes on travel and lifestyles.

_________________________________________________


A sampling of comments from reading about Salon Forum in the Los Angeles Times:



"I had thought about joining a group like this in the past, but never knew if or where they actually existed. I was very excited when I saw the article in the L.A. Times and read about your salon. It sounds like you have a fascinating group of women!"


"I saw your article in the L.A. Times and I loved the idea of the Salon. It is so hard to meet people that are like-minded for intellectual stimulation. Thank you for starting this type of group."


"Having spent my entire life in educational environments, I love the idea of a salon. I am interested in almost everything, and love meeting new people and hearing interesting ideas."


"I am a Psych Nurse at UCLA and would love some intellectual stimulation related to topics other than medicine. I am 62 and approaching retirement. I want to make new friends and explore other interests. This sounds PERFECT!"


 "Thank you for being so forward thinking and proactive! Thanks again for this amazing opportunity for us women in the L..A area."


"I  am so happy to have read your Salon Forum article in the L.A. Times! This was exactly what I have missed since my family has radically changed and am now living in CA, almost 3 years now. I believe women need women and our men can't fill that gap."


"I read your article in the LA Times today, and would love to participate. I am a retired teacher...moved here from Illinois. I work part time...and have plenty of time to investigate new and interesting ideas. Please add me to your list...you have a tremendous idea...women are such powerful beings!"


"Congratulations on creating such an interesting tradition!"


"I am completely intrigued. The concept is wonderful. I've always loved the idea of Parisian salons."


"What a fabulous opportunity you've created for women to bond, and enrich each others' lives. I retired a few years ago from the corporate world and am pursuing my passions of art, adventure travel and healthful living. One thing missing for me is the camaraderie of dynamic woman. I would love to become a part of your forum."


"I'm fascinated by the concept in today’s world! You girls rock!! I live in Ventura County but am an Angelino by birth and heart and would LOVE to attend an upcoming "event". Please add me to your mailing list.”


"What an interesting idea...new to me, but in another sense old. My network of female friends is my treasure. Learning new things is a joy."

Comments from Salonistas


"If I'm in town, I try never to miss a Salon Forum. It's an evening of thought- provoking ideas and stimulating people, enhanced by Barbara Goldberg's good food and warm hospitality. Thanks to Salon Forum, my circle of friends continues to grow!"           A
udrey Stein, Ed.D.                                                                     Travel Photographer,Founding Associate Director, UCLA Center on Aging

"Salon Forum has enriched my life. I’ve been exposed to exciting new ideas and perspectives, enjoyed thoughtful and knowledgeable speakers and felt the warmth of being with a group of intelligent and enlightened women."                        Janice Tarr                                                                    Educational Consultant

"Through her Salon Forum, Barbara Goldberg has created a remarkable and empowering space where women can come together to engage more deeply with themselves, each other, and the world around them. In additional to the scrumptious gourmet buffet, Salon Forum provides substantial emotional, intellectual and spiritual nourishment. Goldberg is the quintessence of generosity - offering her time, talents, and beautiful home for the enrichment of others."      Jan Zahler Lebow                                                             Women's Workshop Facilitator

"Thank you so much for last night's program. It was wonderful! First, the women who attended were smart, savvy, and extraordinary. I met some with whom I plan to stay in contact. Second, the speaker was fabulous. I learned a lot even though I have been a bargain shopper forever and thought I knew all the tricks of the trade.   Third, your home is gorgeous, the ambiance,  amazing. It is so gracious of you to open your home to people you do not know. Fourth, the food was uniformly delicious."
Shelly Rothschild                                                             Attorney

"Salon Forum is the perfect environment for learning, affirmation, challenge and renewal. The diverse talented women whom I have met are inspirational and fascinating. Attending Salon Forum is time well spent."                                                      Helen Dennis                                                                    Gerontologist, Co-founder, Project Renewment

"I go to Salon Forum because of Barbara Goldberg. She is a warm, gracious, intelligent woman of taste, and attracts interesting people. Women are good at skipping the small talk, and zooming in on what matters. Therefore, Salon Forum has become a wonderful addition to my life, a valued community unto itself, where continued learning and comraderie are the focus."                                                                                        Joy Nuell                                                                              LACMA Docent and former KFWB reporter

"It is a little more than a year that I saved the article about you and Salon Forum. I have friends, but miss the intellectual stimulation that comes with a group of women. There is so much stress around us. I believe the warmth and nurturing of women is most important at this time. Your idea is just brilliant and I admire the growth and effort you've expended. Looking forward to becoming involved."
Iris Chayet
M.F.T., retired