A Potluck is More than a Meal

By August 9, 2016Uncategorized

  • Pinterest
In Healing the Heart of Democracy Parker Palmer says the church potluck binds us together. He talks about how one church used potlucks to help people fix their troubled neighborhood. He says there would be a short agenda, but “More important was the chance they gave parishioners to catch up on each other’s lives and to tell personal and public stories that range from painful to hopeful to joyful, stories that create solidarity and energize action…” (142).

To a lesser extent, chicken broasts, dairy breakfasts and county fairs, can begin this community building while getting us off our devices and talking to our neighbors, people we might need, if disaster hits.

My favorite, the Garden Prairie Chicken Broast, arrives just after the corn ripens in July and just as summer eases toward autumn in August. They serve chicken along with corn, cucumbers in a milky dressing, a cup of fresh grown cherry tomatoes, chips, a roll and butter
By sitting at a picnic table we can strike up conversations with neighbors we don’t know or bring along a neighbor we do know like we did this year. We talked about his parents’ travel, the new people, politics. Bruce caught up on news with two buddies from work. A few years ago, I talked horses with a friend who died shortly thereafter. These are surprise, spur of the moment conversations that make a hot summer Sunday brighter and weave us together as community.

I’m Katie Andraski and that’s my perspective.

What are your experiences with potlucks and community meals?

If you’d like to hear me read this on WNIJ click here.

Healing the Heart of Democracy can be purchased here.


  • Parker Palmer has been one of my favorite writers for many decades. His books were the inspiration for a lifetime in which there was virtually no division between “work” and “life.” They were, as Palmer has written, a whole, a seamless unity. For me this took the form of sliding effortlessly from my desk at school to my desk at home, meeting with students at school to critique an essay on “The Great Gatsby” or discuss a confusing scene in “Hamlet,” and heading home with anywhere from one to ten students trailing behind to ‘hang out” at Ms. Robertson’s house. These were upper school students and, when my son was in middle school, their presence had a wonderful influence on him. These were serious students who wanted to talk about important ideas, or work on their college application essays, and they enjoyed being mentors to someone younger. One Sunday afternoon a month, a small group gathered at my house for Playreading. We would pop open our chosen play, whether “Boys in the Band” or “A Man for All Seasons,” assign roles, then read until we had finished the play. At no time did I have any sense of a separation between work and life, between work and love. I was very, very lucky. The title of Palmer’s book to which you refer contains the word ‘healing” which comes from the same root as “wholeness.” We too often compartmentalize in our Western culture, missing entirely the richness of the integrated life. The Judaeo-Christian tradition from which Palmer writes has, at its core, the idea of restoration. What was that song from the seventies? “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.”

    As always, Katie, thank you so much for posting these thoughtful and thought-provoking essays.

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you for sharing your life with me here. What an amazing work you did having your students back to your house. I bet they’ll never forget that hospitality or those discussions and play reading. It is true this restoration business and it sounds like you did it well in your work as a teacher. Love that quote too.

Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest