Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners

August 12th, 2014 by Dionna | 13 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Natural Parenting, Feed with Love and Respect, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting

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Welcome to the August 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Friends

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about friends.

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I am super involved in my parenting/homeschooling community. One might assume that such involvement translates into an endless supply of friendships. Unfortunately, that is not true in my case. I’ve been starved for a local best friend (no offense to my two besties in Indiana and Kansas, btw). At the beginning of the year, a few of my friends were talking online about resolutions and goals. I decided that my goal for the year would be to cultivate community.

In that spirit, I stepped outside of my comfortable, introverted life and reached out to some women in my community who I wanted to get to know better. I emailed them all and told them I needed friends, that my family needed friends. Consequently, I am now part of two different sets of community dinners.

What is a community dinner? In both of my groups, five families participate. Each month one family hosts and provides the main course. Every other family comes and brings a side or a dessert. It’s simple. And yes – both of my groups have family members with food allergies, and we gladly work around them.

Relaxing and chatting at our most recent community dinner.

Relaxing and chatting at our most recent community dinner.

Every month I can count on having at least one or two get togethers with people who are becoming true friends. My children’s social circles have expanded to include kids we would not have the fortune to know through our homeschooling co-ops. And my husband is (gasp) meeting other dads. There are no drawbacks!

How have you intentionally created community?

Here is one of my two amazing community dinner groups. We love our friends!

All of the family members of the other of my two amazing community dinner groups. We love our friends!

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon August 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Sibling Revelry — At Natural Parents Network, Amy W. shares her joy in witnessing the growth of the friendship between her two young children.
  • Making New Mama Friends — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on how she was able to connect with like-minded mamas and form deep friendships both in ‘real life’ and online. Learn how these life-long friendships, both between Jennifer and other mothers but also between Jennifer’s daughter and the other children, formed and flourished.
  • Family, Friends and Family Friends — Vidya Sury at Vidya Sury, Going A-Musing, Collecting Smiles is reflecting on family friendships, past and present.
  • Arranging friendships in a modern world — From a free-range childhood to current parenthood, how can an introvert like Lauren at Hobo Mama navigate the newly complicated scheduling of playdates and mom friends?
  • Mommy Blogs: Where Moms Make Friends — Mothers make friends with other mothers in new ways. The options from earlier decades remain, but new avenues have sprung up with mommy bloggers. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence shares her thoughts.
  • Friendship and Sacrifice: Guardians of the Galaxy — Shay at 4HisGlory learned that friendship lessons can be found in unlikely places, like blockbuster summer movies.
  • Friendship – Finding, Forming, Keeping, and WishingLife Breath Present‘s thoughts on finding, forming, keeping, and wishing for friendships as an introvert.
  • Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners — How have you intentionally created community? Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s goal for the year is to cultivate community. One way she’s done that is to help organize two different monthly dinners with friends.
  • Adults need imaginary friends, too — Tat at Mum in Search shares why it’s a good idea for adults to have imaginary friends. You get to meet Tat’s friend and download a playbook to create your own.
  • Friends Near, Friends Far — Kellie at Our Mindful Life helps her kids keep in touch with friends 600 miles apart.
  • Which comes first, social skills or social life? — Jorje of Momma Jorje frets about whether her daughter can learn social skills without experience, but how to get good experience without social skills.
  • Snail Mail Revival — Skype isn’t the only way to stay in touch with long distance friends, That Mama Gretchen and her family are breaking out the envelopes and stamps these days!
  • Montessori-Inspired Friendship Activities — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares a roundup of Montessori-inspired friendship activities for home or classroom.
  • How I used the internet to make local friends — After years of striking out at the park, Crunchy Con Mom finally found some great local friends . . . online!
  • My How Friends Change — Erica at ChildOrganics knows entirely too much about how to comfort a friend after a loss.

13 Responses to:
"Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners"

  1. Crunchy Con Mom   crunchyconmom

    That is such a fun idea! My parents used to do something like that through our church.

    I think my husband probably wouldn’t be interested, but a monthly brunch for moms and Littles would be super fun and doable I think!

    • I forced my husband into it, I’ll admit. But I wanted friends that he’d be happy to hang out with too! We had NO couple friends, and this was a workable solution :) But yes, a brunch for moms and littles would also be fun. We just already have a lot of that going on.

  2. Jaye Anne   aebabeygirlie

    Wow! What a great idea! Just go ask people if you can be friends with them. It’s that simple?

    • I know what you mean, Jaye Anne! It’s hard to ask something so basic and kind of soul-baring. I’m always afraid people will laugh at me. And in fact, one time when I was chatting with someone who had come over to get a plant I gave away via an online group, and I said, “We live really near each other and have kids close in age–we should be friends!” she apparently thought I was joking and did not respond to my later couple of messages seeking to get together with her. :-(

  3. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    Love this idea! If only our place were big enough to host more than a couple people at a time… I wonder if I could organize & we host it somewhere else? Anyway, you’re inspiring me to think again of how to foster friendships. :)

  4. Kelli

    You always have the best ideas, Dionna. I’m going to give this some thought and see about trying this in my community. It goes against my nature to head something like this up, but maybe that’s all the more reason to do it! Thanks for the idea. And I love the group photo–it really does look like you’re cultivating a community! Go you!!!!

  5. Tat   muminsearch

    What you’ve done seems like a totally scary step from my introverted point of view, but also so simple! I have been creating my community in a different way, but reaching out to people I know from online and then meeting up in person. It works amazingly well, we already know a bit about each other, so we can skip the social talk and go straight to the real conversation. I’ve made quite a few friends that way.

  6. Shay   4HGConsulting

    Mmmm… I’m so in love with this idea! I think food and fellowship are a key piece that’s lacking in today’s world. There are so many who are in want and need of friendship but don’t know how to go about it. I am now furiously working my brain to figure out how to set an intentional community up for other people.

    I think the only time I set up my own intentional community was Bible studies but I’m looking forward to creating more.

  7. I love this idea! It would be fun to get something like it going for ourselves. For a few years, our church had a twice-monthly potluck that we really enjoyed, but attendance dropped off and it was cancelled. Our new pastor just started a monthly dinner that he cooks (even easier for us!!) so I’m hoping that takes off. Our church is mostly older and single people (my daughter is the first baby in our congregation in 4 years) but we do have a weekly bagel breakfast and Bible study whose attendees happen to include 2 of the other families with children under 10, so that’s a great thing for both the kids and me.

    One summer before parenthood, my partner and I split a CSA farm share with another couple. We alternated weeks picking up the veggies and hosting dinner, which we would make using some of our veggies, and then we’d divide the remainder. It was nice having that frequent socializing, and we were surprised how much we could teach our friends–neither of them really knew how to cook from scratch!

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