James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

51: The Community of Food

Ask anyone about their community and you’ll receive a multitude of responses. Some may chime in with their neighborhood, others may rep their professional focus. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, a community is “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” I’ve been interested in what it takes to build a community, because it takes work to maintain it healthily. In a multi-part series, I’ll chat about some experiences that led to my definition of the term, with the first being food.

Earlier this week, a friend hosted a dinner party. This friend also happens to be interested in community and how it looks beyond online interactions. This means that those in attendance of these gatherings change frequently, so the community remains fresh with new friendships. Walking in the door and only knowing a handful of people as I was peeling away the layers of a Midwest winter gave me anxiety. My inner dialogue bounced between “who will I chat with” to “hope I don’t look like an idiot”. Luckily, something that happens when you find yourself around a table, sharing courses and alcohol–all that anxiety vanishes and you realize why meals are the great equalizer. We all need it to live and enjoy it–have you ever meant anyone that says “I hate food”?

In the early days of being introduced to Chicago’s creative community, I would find myself invited to people’s homes for meals. There was no formal setting, just the host crafting a meal that led to conversations from current projects to mindful banter. As I’ve become more involved, the centrality of food remained the same, from friends creating art based on the gathering of communal meals, to artist collectives that host salon-styled exhibitions around a meal. Food brings people together, which leads to great conversations and connections.

Next week, I’ll explore the community through contructive critique. Until then, have you had any moments with creating or experiencing a community around food? Are you throwing any upcoming events that has a food element? Hit reply and let me know.

Thanks for reading,

-James

What did I find interesting this week?

1) Pilsen’s Gentrification Debate Began Well Before Bow Truss Coffee Moved In: Speaking of community, my neighborhood of Pilsen is recently in a revived(?) debate in regards to gentrification. A collection of politicans gave their take on it, which surprisingly went across the gamut of opinions.

2) Is Google making the web stupid?: Thoughts after the recent revelation of Google’s loss of search results towards blog publishing existing outside of social media.

3) THE COMING AGE OF CALM TECHNOLOGY: A beautifully built 1996 website complete with table tags that hosts a Xerox PARC study on what it means to bulid Calm Technology, or tech (digital or analog) that moves out of the conscious.

James T. Green