Potluck: Chicago, a group of artists and activists from across the city, lifts its name from the collective meal to which everyone brings a dish. Using this metaphor, the UK interdisciplinary arts organization, motiroti, partnered with various local institutions, including Columbia College Chicago, 6018NORTH, Dorchester Projects and En Las Tablas Performing Arts Center to gather a diverse body of participants interested in expanding their understanding of arts activism. Potluck: Chicago was launched in the fall of 2011 through a series of shared meals, skill workshops, and discussions about strategies for re-imagining the social life of a city. Participants in the Potluck engage in the initial stages of creative place-making: imagining, evaluating, and becoming increasingly aware of the power of sociability. Deferring result and finalization, participants take risks and push their own levels of comfort. From passing out plate invitations to a meal with strangers to fashioning sock puppet avatars for children, Potluck: Chicago looks to the social inequities that mark our neighborhoods and relationships with one another.
The Potluck Principles are that, as well as working within participatory arts best practice guidelines, a local Potluck circle commits itself to working:
- accessibly – using food sharing as a means to develop the widest and most diverse public engagement, and to foreground diverse cultural riches of the locality; to enable creative work to extend from places where people of all kinds can be engaged and appreciative.
- responsively – ‘from the community end’ – actively listening and being responsive to expressed briefs, ideas and concerns of communities and participants – putting the interests of people before the creative intentions of circle members, and working on creative platform(s) accordingly.
- openly – to increase and diversify circle membership; working transparently; taking work into other sectors where possible to increase connections and opportunities.
- professionally – being respectful of all organizations and people engaged – taking responsibility and recognizing support; being clear in dealing around ownership and crediting of ideas and activities.
- persistently – seeking ongoing engagement with those with whom a circle might connect.
- generously – sharing skills and insight widely and freely through documentation; by offering peer to peer support.
- sustainably – being resource-efficient – putting value on making visible, and bringing into a local network, existing as well as new activity that supports the aims of the project.
Potluck groups are invited to self-organize as Potluck:[city-name] (or to operate under another group name as they so choose); and to liaise with motiroti, and other Potluck groups as they form, to build new collaborations, share intelligence and collaborate in other ways that further the overall project.
The Potluck: developing a ‘glocal network’ of neighborhood artists
- A potluck is a meal to which everyone brings a dish.
- The Potluck project seeks to increase local connectivity and participation, using food sharing and community art-making, to spark new conversations and actions about how we might harness the full potential of our ‘world cities’.
- Potluck groups are artists making work in, with and for their local neighborhoods in emerging ‘world cities’. They use food sharing and common Potluck principles to achieve positive social change.