Creating dinner experiences and new community relationships
// By Jacqueline Brennan
As you might expect, Carola Secada’s experience in planning multiple community dinner experiences throughout LA for Upswell changemakers has been interesting, inspiring, and sometimes overwhelming – all at the same time.
More than “just dinner,” she’s working to provide Upswell attendees with community experiences that reflect LA’s vibrant range of cultures and food offerings, and encourage easy conversation – in locations where changework is working.
According to Carola, “It has been exciting, and sometimes like drinking water from a fire hose. The number of folks engaged in changemaking in LA, many of whom are ‘hope dealers’, is incredible. I learn about at least one new individual or organization every day. It’s also been a great reminder about the key to building new relationships with local social enterprises and community residents.
“Even with my LA roots and years of nonprofit sector experience, I’ve been making important new connections with neighborhood leaders and residents to nail down locations in their communities for these dinner experiences by first remembering to listen with a sense of respect and interest in learning.”
That sometimes includes explaining the concept of Upswell to them, along with its goal of bringing people together from across the social good spectrum to prototype solutions to challenging community issues.
With five dinner experiences confirmed to date, and more to come, Carola says she’s met interesting people with a strong social conscience. They include the team of Casa 0101 Theater and owners of Casa Fina Restaurant and Cantina, a social enterprise restaurant that offers authentic and fresh Mexican food; and a Board Member from Myri’s List, a nonprofit organization that uses crowdsourcing and social media to connect volunteers with new refugee families to help fulfill the families’ needs.
“When I say that Upswell isn’t one ‘quick fix’ event, they’re pleasantly surprised. I want them to understand that it’s ongoing, and that these dinner experiences in their communities could help them start new relationships with changemakers with whom they may have common interests and goals. It’s also an opportunity for them to educate Upswell attendees about their successful collaborations, so they can take those learnings back to help create positive change in their neighborhoods.”