The People's Potlucks


The People’s Potlucks are part of a larger program at MAPP called The America Project. Designed to carry on the legacy of artist and activist Sekou Sundiata, The America Project brings together creative process and public engagement in service to imagination, civic dialogue and critical citizenship. A signature activity of The America Project is the potluck “citizenship dinner,” held in private homes and community spaces at which individuals come together to share their personal experiences of citizenship, community, freedom, family and place through storytelling, dialogue and creative expression. The dinners aim to create an environment for thoughtful reflection, deep listening, and the possibility of finding common ground across difference.

The Structure
The People’s Potlucks is a series of artist-led dinner conversations held throughout New York City from May – August 2011 that explore—through personal stories, group readings, creative activities and honest dialogue—the idea of living as citizens of conscience in an interconnected, global society. We invite you to join us in thinking collectively about our shared roles and responsibilities in creating a democratic, humane future that reflects the interdependent nature of society today.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001—and look forward to the next decade in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world—this project encourages New Yorkers to actively engage with our communities and demonstrates how the presence of creative, energetic space for shared imagining is important to a common civic consciousness.

The Dinners
First there is a common meal. Then a conversation marked by thoughtful reflection, deep listening, and the possibility of finding common purpose across difference. As an alternative to political discussion focused on policy change or the latest issue of the day, these conversations aim to unleash fresh thinking, spark ideas and imagine new ways to see and act interdependently.

The Artist Leaders
Each dinner is facilitated by an artist whose personal work is deeply embedded in community. The artist provides common texts for reflection prior to the gathering and, through participatory creative activities, shares his or her artistic practice with the dinner participants to create a collective experience from which dialogue can grow. Artist leaders ensure that the conversation doesn’t get stuck—they encourage participants to go deeper, make sure everyone has a chance to speak, and allow time for reflection before the group departs.

The Hosts
Individuals or organizations may host a dinner in a private home or intimate community space. Hosts are asked to curate and invite a group of 10-15 participants, reflecting diverse backgrounds, viewpoints and beliefs.

The Participants
Participants come from all walks of life. The only requirement to participate is coming with an open mind and heart to share in a creative and deep exploration of the practice of interdependence in our neighborhoods, our countries and our world.

The Culminating Event
On September 12, 2011 participants, hosts and artists from all of the dinners are invited to gather at a celebratory event to mark Interdependence Day 2011, organized in partnership between NYC arts organizations and the public policy institute Demos/CivWorld.


The Concept

Recently, MAPP has become involved with the Interdependence Movement (short history and declaration attached), a global network of Citizens without Borders , who recognize the interdependent nature of our world and advocate for new forms of constructive civic interdependence to solve cross-border challenges in economics, ecology, technology, war, health and immigration that confront us. Since 2003, the Interdependence Movement has celebrated September 12 as Interdependence Day, and in 2011, the movement is expanding to include year-round expressions of interdependence. In New York, MAPP has joined with several other arts organizations to consider how we can both bring this into our own practice as well as use artistic and creative acts on and around September 12, 2011 to mark that day as one of looking forward and embracing global citizenship.

MAPP sees a place of intersection between The America Project and The Interdependence Movement. Consideration of what we could bring to the table inspired the development—on Sekou’s model—of the People’s Potlucks. Each dinner will be led by an artist, who will create the specific framework for that dinner, and facilitate dialogue as well as a creative activity relating to this framework. We imagine these will take place from May- July 2011and will culminate in a gathering/performance event for all of the participants on or around September 12, 2011.

Declaration of Interdependence

We the people of the world do herewith declare our interdependence as individuals and
members of distinct communities and nations. We do pledge ourselves citizens of one
CivWorld, civic, civil and civilized. Without prejudice to the goods and interests of our
national and regional identities, we recognize our responsibilities to the common goods
and liberties of humankind as a whole.

We do therefore pledge to work both directly and through the nations and communities
of which we are also citizens:

To guarantee justice and equality for all by establishing on a firm
basis the human rights of every person on the planet, ensuring that the least
among us may enjoy the same liberties as the prominent and the powerful;

To forge a safe and sustainable global environment for all -- which is
the condition of human survival -- at a cost to peoples based on their current
share in the world’s wealth;

To offer children, our common human future, special attention and
protection in distributing our common goods, above all those upon which
health and education depend;

To establish democratic forms of global civil and legal governance
through which our common rights can be secured and our common
ends realized;

To foster democratic policies and institutions expressing and
protecting our human commonality; and at the same time,

To nurture free spaces in which our distinctive religious, ethnic and cultural
identities may flourish
and our equally worthy lives may be lived in dignity,
protected from political, economic and cultural hegemony of every kind.


The Sponsor

  This project is develop and sponsor by MAPP International Productions




"The discovery of a new dish
does more for human happiness
than the discovery of a star."

- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin 1755-1826
French jurist and gourmet



Article on the topic of population growth:

Defusing The Population Bomb
The world's biggest problem? Too many people