There’s something special about sitting down over a meal and how it brings people together and forms a special bond between them. This is what happens at the Places, Spaces and Faces Community Dinner (PSF) every month. This event started about 6 months ago by some dedicated Phoenix residents who were craving community, Yuri Artibise, Kathleen Bartolomei, Jim McPherson, Marshall Shore and myself.
The first one happened in February at the historic mid-century modern building of 407 W. Osborn in midtown Phoenix. Every month since, it’s evolved and grown, attracting many of the same people back and at the same time has managed to consistently appeal to new people as well. Sometimes there’s a speaker and a topic of discussion, other times it’s just an opportunity to get together and share food and stories in a special place. It was extra special this past Saturday because it was attended by over 60 amazing people from all over the Valley (mostly Phoenicians though) and was hosted at ASU’s Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory (PURL). Ironically, this space used to be a ballroom that hosted such events decades ago and it was wonderful to reactivate it in that way again. Plus, our host and speaker, Kevin Kellogg, generated some amazing discussion amongst the group around 10 words that are important to the urban future of Phoenix.
PSF is not an exclusive club where you need some sort of membership to attend. It’s open to the public. It’s a way to get together with your fellow Valley residents and share some things with them: your time, your food, your stories, your presence, your self. It’s a way of saying, hello, how are you, my name is…to new people in a beloved setting in the city.
Why is this such a special thing in Phoenix? Well, because we rarely get this opportunity to mingle and get together with people who aren’t on our usual roster of friends and family. It’s rare to share your time, much less home-cooked food with a stranger you’ve never met.
There is no ulterior motive to this gathering. It’s not a business networking event, nor a fund raising opportunity, nor a singles meeting place, although any or all of these things happen there on occasion. The purpose of it is purely to come together as a community to be and talk with one another. This simple premise of getting together in interesting places for the sake of getting together and experiencing those places in a new way has proven to be a powerful formula for all sorts of friendships, discussions, ideas, coalitions and connections. And it’s only in its 6th month, imagine what it will generate for our city in the years to come!
We can’t have a good city, healthy neighborhoods, vibrant places to live, play and work if we don’t have a strong sense of community. If we feel that we are separate from our city, we will forever be ‘victims’ of all the things that aren’t working instead of becoming a part of the solution. Community events like PSF help forge people together and instill in them the idea that we are the city. And once we consider ourselves a community and stewards of not only one another’s well being, but the well being of the place we inhabit as well, anything is possible.
Photo Credit: Photo of the Places, Spaces and Faces Community Dinner at PURL on July 24, 2010. Photo by Taz LoomansTags: asu, blooming rock, community dinner, historic preservation, phoenix, Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory, Places, places spaces and faces, PURL, taz loomans