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Making Connections tackles tough topics – around the dinner table |

Making Connections tackles tough topics – around the dinner table

Uncomfortable meals aren’t unusual for a food reporter, whether it’s being recognized by restaurant staff during a restaurant review or dining with strangers during a media event.

But I’ve never felt physically nauseous during a meal (thankfully). I’ve never had dinner conversation go beyond the usual small talk into something deeper that despite the twist in my belly, left me with a sense of purpose as the event came to a close.

It’s not like I wasn’t warned. Making Conversations aims to take on tough topics such as homelessness, mental health, gender and identity, and more during a dinner party of 12 guests, most of whom are strangers. The current round of events are being hosted by local artist LeAnn Siefferman and The Dinner Party Project, an organization that hosts invitation-only dinner parties.

During a graduate course on “Arts, Religion and Social Change,” Siefferman was inspired to create plates literally designed to spark conversation on social issues. She knew those plates were destined for a larger audience, and so created Making Conversations to give people with a variety of viewpoints a safe space to share, listen and think on their own beliefs.

The recent gathering I attended focused on race. Siefferman’s dinnerware touched on a variety of topics, from referencing Orlando’s food desert (an area that doesn’t have easy access to affordable fresh food) to encouraging guests to get out of their comfort zones. She described her creations before allowing each of us to select a plate to use during the four-course meal.

Despite the chitchat during cocktail hour, the table fell silent when we settled into our seats. A moderator from Valencia College’s Peace and Justice Institute as well as a local “content expert” guided the conversation.

The depth to which my dining companions shared their experiences moved me. How can anyone feel something after hearing from:

– A woman who has to check herself before a disagreement with coworkers lest she come off as “the angry black woman.”

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off
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