Sometimes change at the neighborhood level can start with a conversation over a casserole dish.
That's the aim of National Potluck Week.
National Potluck Week is a brand new event, founded by Tacoman and president of Go Local, Derrick Rhayn. The event is already in about 20 states, and Rhayn hopes to have it in all 50 states over time. This year, the event kicked off Sunday and runs until May 26.
Rhayn and his nonprofit community powerhouse called Pull Together Now started National Potluck Week to stimulate change in communities from the bottom-up. In part, the potlucks came out of a need to start some conversation before the City of Neighborhoods event on June 30, which aims to get communities addressing issues such as economic change, crime and other issues.
But organizers started asking themselves how they could get people to show up to the event with some ideas.
Why not encourage potlucks so neighbors could meet each other and start talking?
"With National Potluck Week, we're trying to inspire ordinary Americans to do a few things," said Rhayn. "One is to invite their neighbors to enjoy a healthy meal together because we really don't know our neighbors in America. We're also encouraging people to leave their politics at the door, so that they can start talking about a positive vision for their neighborhoods."
The best way to get involved is to sign up to host a potluck on the website (www.nationalpotluckweek.com). However, the website is not designed to facilitate potlucks, just to keep track of where potlucks are popping up. No addresses or names are listed and neighbors should organize potlucks amongst themselves, Rhayn said.
"We really believe that change can happen on a large scale by starting at the most local level," Rhayn added. "We might feel hopeless about things like climate change or pollution or other larger social issues, but really, all the small acts that people do really add up. It's in those small acts that transformation can occur."