Potluck for Peace


Food nourishes more than just the body.” This Project Feast motto came alive two Saturdays ago at our first annual Potluck for Peace. We gathered at Seward Park on what was a beautiful fall day. At first glance, it was apparent this was no typical picnic. The sound of drumbeats echoed through the air as people filed in slowly, arms full with a dish from their culture or home country. Small groups gathered on the grass, as we eyed each new dish that came to the table. We came seeking nourishment, not only physical, but the nourishment that comes from connecting with other people and to the hope within ourselves.

This bright scene, however, had a dark beginnings. It came from  feelings of powerlessness amidst the xenophobic headlines and ongoing racial violence in this country. It came from the feelings of hopeless and sadness for the deep racial and cultural divides that continue to separate us. We wanted to do something to take back our power, as people that believe we have the capacity to create a peaceful and compassionate future. From these conversations, the idea of Potluck for Peace was born. We joined together with the Interfaith Community Sanctuary to start bringing this Potluck to life. Our goal was to bring people together to connect in our shared humanity. Any in Project Feast style, what better way to do this than through food?

Before we broke bread, however, SiSwinKlae Laurel Boucher of the Tulalip tribe opened the potluck with a welcoming song and dance. Her presence and songs, was a humbling reminder that the majority of the population are immigrants to this land, and of the many layers of welcoming that have occurred and are still occurring here. She gave thanks to the land that has provided us with all of the food that was to be shared between us.

Without a doubt, the potluck spread was something to be grateful for. From Iraqi Biryani to Peruvian Seco de pollo the flavors took us on a taste tour of the world. As we piled up our plates, some of the initial shyness and hesitation started to melt away and we began asking one another the stories behind the dishes we had chosen. Food has this magical effect on groups of people, it allows us to focus a love of food as one thing we all have in common despite language, cultural background, race, or gender identity. Although food differs around the world, it connects us all as one of our basic human necessities.

After filling our bellies, we then broke into small groups for discussion. The group dispersed into groups in the quiet corners of the picnic area and answered questions that were centered around the human experience. Each person answered a different question, while others listened. We talked about our experiences of forgiveness, home, discrimination, and hope. It was a chance for us to really hear each other, share bits and pieces of our stories, and break out of our day to day. and engage in conversations that could plant the seeds for a more compassionate future.  

As we came together as a group in the end, people expressed the hope they had found in themselves throughout the day. Many who had come with heavy hearts, discouraged, would leave feeling renewed. Laurel closed the circle with the “Butterfly Song”, a story of transformation. This song was a reminder that, like this potluck, beautiful things can emerge from a dark place. Even sadness and hopelessness has the power to transform into new beginnings. This potluck was a reminder that we have the capacity within us to make this transformation, and it is up to us to start the process.

Our vision is to make this an annual event, and hope to spread it out to the rest of the country! Stay tuned for more information.