Welcome Dinners are building an Economy of Trust!
Welcome Dinners are free to attend but we are still tapping into the local economy, not the one based on consumption but rather one based on sharing – the economy of community, where the exchange is in the form of goodwill and trust.
Last week, two of us from the joiningthedots team, Manu and Penny, travelled to Brisbane to take part in the Australian New Economy Movement conference. We see our work and the Welcome Dinner Project as part of this broader movement of ideas, groups, communities, organisations and businesses endeavouring to support the sustainable well being fundamental to human life and the health of the planet. This is a global movement of movements, known as the alter-economic or The New Economy Movement or in some parts, The Solidarity Economy movement. Essentially this is oriented towards nurturing a movement for social transformation, not only committed to systemic change from the current economic models to one of greater sustainability, democracy and solidarity but also for creating viable alternatives.
The Welcome Dinner Project is one such alternative. The incredible momentum that has built since the projects inception four years ago, highlights the resources that are at our fingertips to create the kind of society we all want. Local homes are a great resource, especially when people swing open their doors to one another. Peoples curiosity is yet another resource that we find in bucket loads! But what anchors this project and has made it a really unique offering, is peoples willingness to volunteer their time and energy to complete our facilitator training program and then lead each and every Welcome Dinner with all of their enthusiasm and welcoming spirit.
If you have ever wondered if there is a formula that helps ignite some magic at each Welcome Dinner, there is! Welcome Dinners are designed to take strangers on a journey of connection like no other… The Welcome Dinner experience is shaped by a social technology known as Theory U, developed by Otto Scharmer and popularised by the U Labs taking place around the globe through the free resource of Ed-X. The basic idea of the U Theory is to help people shift from our usual ways of being, where we want to control the outcome and where we often get stuck in old patterns, and move into a different way of being, where we can let go and try something new, through deep listening and presencing, to tap into what the universe is wanting to emerge, and co-create with others what the world needs most.
The perfect recipe of the Welcome Dinner includes ingredients such as yummy and exotic food, sharing (we like to think of it as gifting!), storytelling, re-membering our common humanity by focusing on our passions and interests, embracing cultural traditions different to our own, valuing peoples identity through our own names and the things that are important to us, deep listening, talking about how we feel and of course – creatively engaging with one another despite any language barriers. When we place all of these elements in the shape of a welcome dinner journey, supported by our trained facilitators, transformation occurs. It looks different for everyone, but most people feel something shift. This is because we engage our open mindedness (you have to have this to sign up for a welcome dinner!) and move into our hearts and then into our will. This is the aim of the experience, to leave with a will to change or move something within ourselves, or our communities. Sometimes its as simple as – This reminds me I should talk to my neighbours more. Or – Now I know that people actually want me here I will be more confident to connect with Australian people around me. Or – Now that I finally feel welcome I can leave my worries behind.
Some of the Welcome Dinner ingredients:
The Social Technology underpinning the dinners: