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Dialectic of Community and Fragmentation in Organizing for Social Change
Unformatted Document Text:  5 of dignity. They can say with pride, "I worked at the Friday Night Supper and we all had a great time together." We also served all of the food "family style" with tables of eight. That means a big salad bowl for each table, along with large bowls for the entree, the vegetables, and the bread . It would be much easier of course to serve the food in the style of a soup kitchen by having several big pots and trays of food in a central location where people can approach the servers with their plates in hand. Such a structure, however, sets up an "us" versus "them" environment with the poor cast as the marginalized other. By serving family style we (the cooks and dish washers) have created a great deal more work. There are many more serving bowls, pans and dishes to clean. The food distribution process is more complicated. But the additional work is more than worth it. As we sit at tables among our poorer neighbors and pass food to each other we initiate a contact between equals who are sharing something together. Over the same three year period two members of our research team also participated in a total of 30 soup kitchen meals in ten different urban and rural communities in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. In these situations the members of our research team would pose as homeless members to participate in the meals. This was done because, unlike Good Works, most soup kitchens do not attempt to connect members of different demographic groups. If we entered these settings as members of the middle class, the poor and homeless attendees would not, in all likelihood, open up and feel comfortable talking with us. To fit within our surroundings we dressed shabbily and did not make any attempt at personal grooming. Immediately preceding the meals we would often be required to participate in a religious service where we were expected to pray and sing hymns. There was also usually a sermon of between 15 and 30 minutes focusing on the themes of sin and redemption. We would then be led into a hall (either adjacent to a church or a community center of some sort). Everyone would line up to be served food that was contained in several large pots and placed on large serving trays. Once served we would sit at tables next to strangers and attempt to engage in conversation. After the meals we would stay at the hall where the meal was served and attempt to strike up conversations with people

Authors: papa, Michael., Papa, Wendy., Wasserman, Keith., Kandath, Krishna., Worrell, Tracy. and Muthuswamy, Nithya.
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of dignity. They can say with pride, "I worked at the Friday Night Supper and we
all had a great time together."
We also served all of the food "family style" with tables of eight. That means
a big salad bowl for each table, along with large bowls for the entree, the
vegetables, and the bread . It would be much easier of course to serve the food
in the style of a soup kitchen by having several big pots and trays of food in a
central location where people can approach the servers with their plates in
hand. Such a structure, however, sets up an "us" versus "them" environment with
the poor cast as the marginalized other. By serving family style we (the cooks and
dish washers) have created a great deal more work. There are many more
serving bowls, pans and dishes to clean. The food distribution process is more
complicated. But the additional work is more than worth it. As we sit at tables
among our poorer neighbors and pass food to each other we initiate a contact
between equals who are sharing something together.
Over the same three year period two members of our research team also
participated in a total of 30 soup kitchen meals in ten different urban and rural
communities in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. In these situations the members
of our research team would pose as homeless members to participate in the
meals. This was done because, unlike Good Works, most soup kitchens do not
attempt to connect members of different demographic groups. If we entered
these settings as members of the middle class, the poor and homeless attendees
would not, in all likelihood, open up and feel comfortable talking with us. To fit
within our surroundings we dressed shabbily and did not make any attempt at
personal grooming.
Immediately preceding the meals we would often be required to
participate in a religious service where we were expected to pray and sing
hymns. There was also usually a sermon of between 15 and 30 minutes focusing
on the themes of sin and redemption. We would then be led into a hall (either
adjacent to a church or a community center of some sort). Everyone would line
up to be served food that was contained in several large pots and placed on
large serving trays. Once served we would sit at tables next to strangers and
attempt to engage in conversation. After the meals we would stay at the hall
where the meal was served and attempt to strike up conversations with people


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