“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It's about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.”
― Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes
Potlucks, I believe, can change the world. They provide an easy way to fundraise, to host speakers, to bring people with diverse views and backgrounds together to talk about issues, and to get people working toward a common goal. To help you thinking about how you might use potlucks to foster community and, perhaps, make change, I've gathered some inspiring ideas I've seen over the last year.
Peace promotion. A number of YMCAs, churches, mosques, and synagogues have hosted Potlucks for Peace to get people talking about challenging issues, like race relations, immigration, and religious freedom. Host a potluck with the specific intent of fostering conversation around such a topic. Consider having speakers or panel discussions at the event.
Local foodshed support. A friend recently reminded me that supporting the local-food economy, including farmers and small-scale producers, is an unexpected act of patriotism. Many communities already host locavore-minded potlucks, but if yours doesn't, consider starting one. Use it not only to share a meal but to discuss ways to support your local farmers, soup kitchens, and food pantries.
Community solidarity. When a controversial, hate-promoting speaker passed through San Luis Obispo, California, the mayor suggested that upset residents hold potlucks to support the affected community members. The lesson: Sitting down and breaking bread together can help create a sense of security and solidarity against hate.
Fundraising. Last spring, Bernie Sanders supporters held potluck fundraisers that helped the presidential candidate raise some of that April's total of $26.9 million, almost all of which came from small donations. Choose a cause—perhaps supporting your local homeless shelter or animal rescue—and ask friends to bring a dish as well as a small donation. Even better, find a way to make that cause go viral.
Activism. There's a surge of interest in activism after the election. Use potlucks to have teach-ins, with seasoned activists leading the charge. Or simply invite friends over to write postcards to your lawmakers.