How Can a Dinner Change a Community?

How Can a Dinner Change a Community?

A few weeks ago, we partnered with Wonderroot, Creative Visions and Purpospoon to host the 2nd Community Dinner Project, where we gathered 50 Atlantans to discuss how creativity can drive social change, and then we painted farm signs for the nonprofit Concrete Jungle.

Special thanks to our sponsors, Perennial Properties, AndyMac Realty, ASW Distillery and Creative Visions Foundation.

The process

After our first dinner project in November, we were inspired by all of the public art in Atlanta.

public art

The planning team met with Concrete Jungle, Wonderoot and Creative Visions to see how the dinner could be most helpful to our partner organizations. We discussed what problems each organization was trying to solve, and what ways the organizations could connect. Specifically, we talked with Concrete Jungle about their biggest needs and what they would need creative ideas for, which determined the discussions topics for the dinner.  

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On June 9th, over 50 Atlantans came together at Foster, a coworking space in Old 4th Ward.  We had a diverse group that included bloggers, realtors, marketers, and artists.

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The food

Go Eat Give, a nonprofit that builds relationships between different cultures through food and travel, prepared a delicious and hearty Turkish meal for us.

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The issues

Each table took on a different issue that was important to the theme of creativity and social change, and brainstormed ideas for how they could start to address these issues on a local level. 

Topic 1: Bridging the gap between unharvested fruits and community in need

We discussed how to increase the reach, presence and sustainability of Concrete Jungle. Concrete Jungle is doing great innovative work in Atlanta, but not many people know about them and they could have a larger donor base. Concrete Jungle is also in need of “tree parents” who watch fruit trees and let Concrete Jungle know when they are ready to be harvested.  

Idea: Harvest the power of Atlanta’s neighborhoods (and neighborhood rivalries) to have a fruit tree adoption competition, where each neighborhood adopts a set of trees to watch for Concrete Jungle, and to raise awareness about Concrete Jungle’s mission.

Potential partners and opportunities: Neighborhood associations, MARTA Army, notable ATL Bloggers and Instagrammers

Topic 2: Arts & Education

We looked at how to incorporate art better in education and make it a valued part of all school curriculum.

Idea: Connect young professional groups with teachers and schools to document and tell the story of how arts have positively impacted their schools, and use these stories to communicate the need for arts programs to policymakers.

Partners: Wonderoot, Atlanta Public Schools, Teach for America

Topic 3: Happier, healthier Atlanta
We discussed how we can communicate and promote health through creativity. The group also noted that it can be difficult for a group with more resources to approach a low income neighborhood and tackle an issue as personal as health.

Idea: After speaking with the community, work with artists to create “Recipe art” at Marta Stations, using pictures to show what each ingredient looks like and including full instructions. These recipes could pair with vegetable stands at MARTA stations, and highlight neighborhood specific recipes.

Partners: Food well alliance, Wonderoot, Food oasis

Topic 4: Connecting Atlantans to local products

We focused mainly on local food and the barriers involved with getting people to buy local. The biggest issue was accessibility and price.

Idea: Tell the story of local producers and makers, because consumers are more likely to buy something that is a little more expensive if they feel connected to the product. This could be through blogs, pop up shows and groups like #ChooseATL.

Partners:  Food well alliance, Gather Good

Topic 5:  Connecting Atlanta’s diverse neighborhoods

We discussed how to best bring together Atlanta’s diverse, cool, but isolated neighborhoods through creativity and art.

Idea:PassportATL” – Each month a neighborhood hosts a festival, and highlights they do best and sell themselves on it. Visitors get their passportATL stamped at each place, which should support local businesses, unite different neighborhoods, and get people branching into new areas.

Partners: #Weloveatl, Beltline Foundation, Creative Loafing, Marta, Scoutmob, The Chamber (of Atlanta and each neighborhood).

Giving back: The Service Project

We painted 30 plot signs and 2 entrance signs for Concrete Jungle’s farm in Southwest Atlanta.  We hope to go back to visit the farm, volunteer, and check out our art work!

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What’s next?

We hope to see you at Happy Hour at Tijuana Garage on July 19. Concrete Jungle has volunteer farm days on Sundays, and Wonderoot also takes volunteers. We will be sharing the notes from the Dinner Project with all of our partners and the ideas generated with Concrete Jungle.