Free 2,000-person dinner to take place in Frogtown next month

What a table for 2,000 might look like...
What a table for 2,000 might look like...
Courtesy of Create: The Community Meal

Artist Seitu Jones loves his Frogtown 'hood, and it shows. His latest work, Create: The Community Meal, will bring together neighbors, artists, food producers, and advocates to break bread on Sunday, September 14, at a free 2,000-person dinner that will stretch along a half-mile of Victoria Street.

The dinner is a joint effort of Public Art Saint Paul, volunteers, artists, and other strategic partners, including the Minnesota Food Association, Elite Catering, and others. This multi-year project is designed to show how art, performers, and the general public can affect change with regard to food production, access, and distribution in their community.

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The meal itself will feature locally grown produce from area urban farms, coordinated through the Minnesota Food Association. However, the food is just the centerpiece for the evening -- various artists and collaborators will also contribute handmade placemats, choreography, spoken word, a "poetic grace," and other visual and performance works to make this a true public art event.

Seitu Jones and a community meal leader
Seitu Jones and a community meal leader
Courtesy of Create: The Community Meal

Jones was working with Public Art Saint Paul on a public art plan for the Metro Green Line corridor when the idea for Create began to take shape. "When I open the blinds and look at the neighborhood, I see this steady train of people going one way and coming back the other way. I know they've just shopped at the local convenience store," he said. That led him to think more about food inequities, especially in Frogtown, where he has lived for 20 years. Since then, Jones has conducted a food survey, published a collection of stories, and earned a Joyce Award -- all part of the Create journey, which will culminate in the repast coordinated by chef James Baker of Sunnyside Cafe.

There is still much to be done to pull off an affair of this size, and the group is looking for volunteers to serve, greet, and donate to help make this happen. Jones believes that Create will "give people an understanding of what their role in the food system is." One of the project's goals is essentially happening now -- the small community meals that they have used as organizing tools have already brought diverse people together and opened up dialogues about food traditions, different cultures, and Frogtown itself.

To RSVP, volunteer or find out more about the entire project: Create: The Community Meal Sunday, September 14 Victoria Street, Frogtown, St. Paul

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