“The Stranger Dinners” is a series of chance events. Twice a month, six strangers come together to create a collaborative meal (potluck), producing the potential for serendipitous meetings and unexpected happenings. The series will start with an invitation sent to my own list of contacts who are encouraged to spread the invitation through word of mouth, creating a FoaF (Friend of a Friend) network. Anyone in this network can RSVP to one of these dinners, with a maximum of five new guests per dinner. This event engages individuals in a unique situation of spending one night at an intimate gathering with people they may have never met, and may never see again.
Guests each bring something of their choosing to share for dinner. They are also encouraged to bring any other items they would like to use as entertainment, conversation starters, favors, or show and tells.
This project explores the idea of individual expression and temporal intimacy, and allows guests to explore the freedom of interacting with new people outside of expectation, commitment, prior knowledge, or self segregation. The intention of this project is to create new opportunities and possibilities by changing the way people view, respond to, and interact with strangers.
To sign up for The Stranger Dinner email list, visit: https://strangerdinner.eventbrite.com/
A Still from Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train.
I think we need to talk.
My mom always told me never to talk to you, even if you offered me candy. The news tells me not to trust you–that you will kidnap, rape, rob, or kill me given half the chance.
But I never believed those lies. I know you’re just like me, trying to make your world turn as best as you can. I know you have dreams, ideas, and favorite recipes just like me. You might even have some insight to share that will make my life better. Maybe you know my future partner. Maybe you know the solution to something I’ve been trying to figure out for a long while.
Sometimes I run into you at parties, bars, and parks. All over, really. I know we just never get a chance to really sit down together. Get intimate. You just always look so busy, and I don’t want to intrude. You might think I’m crazy, or hitting on you or something. But I’m not.
Because the thing is, you’re really easy to talk to. I can really be myself around you. I can tell you anything, things even my closest friends don’t know. I can be really honest.
Technology is changing so fast now. There are so many new ways we can communicate. We can trade books, furniture, stories, sexual partners, and ideologies. But it still feels so impersonal. I find myself staring at my computer, isolated, as you walk by my window.
I’m tired of the silent treatment. I hate pretending to ignore you, not knowing when and if to smile when you pass. I don’t want to feel afraid when I hear your footsteps behind me at night.
Well, it’s time for a change. Come over for dinner. Let’s sit down, eat, and finally have a chance to really talk. I think this will be a great opportunity for us. In fact, it might save the world, or at least help us work better together. Next week, let’s do it at your house.
All my love,
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This letter appears in the new Shareable ebook collection Share or Die, which is now available in downloadable and free online forms. For the next article in Share or Die, Melissa's "Eating Rich, Living Poor" click here.