In 2019, Community Dinners at Hope House & Gardens were one of VEJ's most popular programs. On the first Sunday of each month, guests gathered in the backyard to enjoy food made by a local chef and a presentation by an Earth justice expert.
The program was set to return in 2020 until COVID-19 make it unwise to host groups of people in close contact for the foreseeable future.
But using technology, VEJ is launching Sunday Dinners, a virtual dinner party program similar to Community Dinners, this June.
"COVID-19 is not an excuse to stop our work," said VEJ executive director BT Irwin. "In fact, it's a challenge to us to find ways to do more. After all, the pandemic only makes it more clear that Earth justice is the issue of our time and we can't put it off. We have to rise to whatever challenges come at us because everything is at stake."
Sunday Dinners will work a lot like Community Dinners at Hope House & Gardens.
Guests will sign up in advance (joining the dinner is free) to receive an invitation to join the event in a private group meeting on Zoom. The private feature is for security.
The dinners will take place on the first Sunday evening of each month starting in June. An Earth justice expert will present for about 20 minutes on a topic of interest, then take questions from the guests. Using one of Zoom's special features, guests will be able to participate in "table discussions" (small group discussions about the topic).
Of course, guests will be responsible for their own food at home, but VEJ is working on a way to help with that, too.
"We're looking to set up some special discounts or promotions from local farmers, food stores, or restaurants so dinner guests can enjoy something special together," said Irwin.
The first Sunday Dinner will take place on Sunday, June 7, at 6 p.m. and will feature Deborah Anderson of Zero Waste Detroit as the guest speaker.
The full calendar of guest speakers will be arrive in the May VEJ News (sign up here).