Monday: Food & Community on Capitol Hill

Those in the Seattle area are in for a real treat Monday night. The folks at Capitol Hill Arts Center will be exploring food and its role in building community. The four panelists are pioneers and provocateurs, who use food as vehicle for their craft.

Come, join us:

The Next Conversation
This episode: "Food and Community"
Monday, October 8, from 7 to 9 pm
Admission = no charge. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at the Capitol Hill Arts Center (, at 1621 - 12th Ave, Seattle – at the sign for Crave. For more information, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848

We're back with another series of wide-ranging roundtable conversations and a collection of fascinating guests.

This month we're exploring food and community. The last time we looked at food, in the spring of 2005, we brought together a food activist and an organic farmer with a poet and a food librarian. This time, we're discussing food in the context of community, and we have among our guests people at the center of Seattle's bourgeoning new world of food. We've invited an eminent young chef, a writer and restaurateur with a love for underground restaurants, a critic/producer/playwright, and to broaden the perspective, an anthropologist who combines a passion for food with a background of deep study of cultures in North Africa. There is a chance we may also be adding an art curator, but that's up in the air.

The Guests:
Writer and restaurateur Michael Hebberoy
Chef Matthew Dillon
Playwright and producer Matthew Richter
Anthropologist Roxanne Brame

Food and Community
The need to build stronger communities has become a mantra of late, especially among disenfranchised, "bowling alone," urban Americans. It makes sense; a sustainable culture is built on a structure of communication, mutual aid, personal respect, the substance of community. Food holds an immense power in our lives, and surely has a strong role to play in creating that culture. The question is: how?

A strong, resilient community is a complex organism that a need to be able to handle division and devastation as deeply as it embraces success and comfort. Many popular visions of community revolve around food, the extended family around the big dinner table at feast holidays, the potluck offerings at a church social. But can food go deeper in creating a human glue, interlocking cooks with farmers, food servers with diners and supermarket clerks, and diners with the people who pick up the garbage?

The slow food movement has grown up with this modern quest for community and seems intertwined with it. I can't help thinking, however, that some of the most communal meals are eaten at McDonald's; just watch a Little League team in a post-game gathering. Does that translate into strong community, though, or is something else needed? Do the most communal meals need to be made by the people who eat them, or can the most communal meal be a cook's gift? Does food foster conversation, or is alcohol the main agent? Or neither of these? Can a culture of respect come from ingraining in our communities a respect for the people who grow, transport, cook, and serve us food? These become critical questions if one assumes that the way humans live our everyday lives has become central to our survival.