Food brings people together – passing dishes back and forth, pouring drinks for each other, stacking plates, the act of sharing flavors and opinions is a great social leveler. Artist-designed community meals have had success in making space for conversation between diverse groups of people and building social cohesion, creating fun shared experiences. Examples include CREATE from Public Art St. Paul, the Feast on the Street from Roosevelt Row in Mesa, and the 500 Plates project in Akron, OH, led by artist Hunter Franks, creator of the Neighborhood Postcard Project toolkit.
Now there is a toolkit for 500 Plates, available for free, which you can use as inspiration for planning your own community meal. Use the toolkit to think about who you invite and how, partners to help create unique place settings and vehicles for conversation, what food and recipes to serve, and how to keep a community conversation engaged beyond the shared meal.