by Sara McArdle, Kids4Peace Seattle Chapter Board Chair
On Friday, January 26, I had the pleasure of hosting my second-ever “Dialogue Dinner” in support of Kids4Peace Seattle. As a board member, one of the things that we’re invited to do (and I happily oblige!) is host an intimate fund- and/or awareness-raising event for our communities once every couple of years.
This time, eight of us gathered around two big tables in the community room at my complex in North Seattle and shared a deep, meaningful discussion about the issues that are most important to each of us. The group consisted of Muslim, Jewish, Christian and non-religious friends of mine who care deeply about the future of our nation and our youth. Most of my guests did not know each other before getting together that night.
As a special treat, I ordered a cornucopia of delights from Gorgeous George’s Mediterranean Kitchen, owned and operated by Kids4Peace friends and Jerusalem natives, George Rashed and Rula Saleh. We feasted on mouth-watering tabouli, falafal, salad, pita, hummus, babaghanouje, dolmas, makdous, grilled vegetables, salmon and chicken.
We spent the first half an hour mingling and getting to know each other a bit. Then, we sat down to eat and pondered some big questions. We gave each person around the table the space and close attention to articulate what was on their hearts and minds, without interruption.
The gist of the questions I posed to the group were: 1) With all that’s currently going on in our country and the world, how do you choose which of the numerous, deserving causes/events/activities to give your time, energy and attention to? 2) What kinds of things do you do to take good care of yourself and make sure you’re saying “no” to the things that are lower priority for you? and 3) How do you handle conversations with loved ones who see issues differently than you do? (Or, do you even get into it?) The conversation was rich and varied, and I left with some new ideas and inspiration.
After we talked for about an hour and a half, I shared how these concepts relate to the work of Kids4Peace; in our community, we get together and regularly ask big questions about what we want to do to make a difference in our communities, how we can support each other and how we can care for ourselves in the process. Then, we take action.
So, I took action by inviting this little community of mine to give to Kids4Peace Seattle so that we can make a real difference in the issues that so many of my community care deeply about, like youth, equity and anti-oppression, nonviolence, living in greater harmony with each other and our planet, etc.
In addition to their financial generosity, I was delighted to see some of my guests exchanging contact information and brainstorming how they might collaborate together in the future on their overlapping projects and visions. These kinds of exchanges are exactly why dialogue dinners can be so powerful!
One meaningful piece of feedback I received was, “I am so nourished by the care and thought you put into whom to invite, what to eat and what questions to ask. I loved meeting such a mix of people, and really liked getting to respond to those questions.”
I highly recommend hosting a dialogue dinner for any cause you care about! (No need to ask for money, either, if that’s not a fit for you.) In a society that’s constantly busy, on the go and multi-tasking, it feels like a real treat to sit across the table from one another and be heard for what moves us deeply, as individuals.