What I learned from a year of giving.
In the period of one year, (July 2015 — July 2016), I fed 808 people for free in my home. In doing so, I learned that the world is filled with some remarkable people just wanting to wake up from within.
My journey began in the early summer of 2015. I had just returned to my home in New York City after producing a play in Italy. Feeling disconnected upon my return, I started experimenting with some dishes in my kitchen and accidentally created a pasta sauce recipe. Objectively, I knew I needed outside opinion, so on July 15th, 2015 I invited 15 of my friends over for dinner and served them my sauce. Not only did they enjoy the meal, but they liked the concept of my delegating tasks and facilitating communal discussion. I fell in love with the joy of connecting people and repeated the same 3 hour, 16 person dinner model for continuous weeks.
Since the inception, the dinner has been the same format: 6:30 pm cocktails, 8:00 pm dinner, but at 7:47 pm, we delegate 11 specific tasks empowering the attendees to be part of the setup process. At 8:30 pm I tell a joke, and at 8:35 pm I open up the table for communal discussion on a specific topic.
During that communal discussion piece, if less than 3 people cried at my dinner table, I considered it a failed night. These are tears of joy, tears of love. They come from a deeply tucked away response to human connection and empathy. In the safe space of the dinner party, with members sharing their stories, the power of community awakens the real from within.
The tipping point occurred at 2 am on a Monday in March of 2016. I woke up in tears, realizing for the first time in my life that I had found complete joy and rid myself of insecurity. My greatest insecurity in life had been feeling like I was always left out of the group, the last one called to the party. Because I knew so many different groups, everyone always assumed I already had other plans.
When I stopped leaning outwards to impress others, and started focusing on creating safe spaces for people to gather, did I FINALLY find complete joy. Through those months of hosting the dinners and investing in myself, I realized that “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection”. — Johann Hari.
My dinner model has continued to be a positive experience to the people I have served. In time, I realized that I wasn’t the only one on this planet starving for empathy and human connection.
So I’ve kept with it.
To date, we have had 72 experiences, serving over 1,900 people, and even built a business encompassing the concept. Our 747 Club is now a community building and connecting platform that awakens Authenticity, Empathy, Vulnerability, and Safety in individuals and corporations.
I have dedicated my life to enriching others, and this dinner model is my form of Art.