A Recipe for Change: Public Art Saint Paul to Host Community Meal for 2,000 Guests

CREATE: The Community Meal will unite St. Paul artists, residents, cultural leaders and advocates seeking food system change

August 6, 2014

By Christine Podas-Larson and Seitu Jones

It’s not every day you invite 2,000 neighbors and friends over for dinner. But that’s exactly what Public Art Saint Paul and renowned Twin Cities artist Seitu Jones are planning for Sunday, September 14, 1-5 p.m., when they host CREATE: The Community Meal along a half-mile stretch of Victoria Street.

CREATE is a public celebration and community gathering designed to ignite conversations about food, food access and food justice in the inner city. The gathering will feature locally grown produce from urban farms, which will be served to 2,000 neighbors and invited guests. Participants will share a healthy meal, participate in conversations about food and culture, and experience artistic moments that celebrate the ritual of dining and inspire purposeful community dialogue. 

A multi-year initiative from Twin Cities artist Seitu Jones, CREATE will demonstrate how artists and their creative collaborators can transform the urban food system by considering the cultural, health, environmental and access equity aspects of urban food production, distribution and consumption.


“We all have a food story. Our food stories are memoirs written in carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Our food stories vary with location, culture, income, access and transportation,” Jones said. “CREATE will help participants and citizens in our increasingly multi-cultural city to understand and visualize their neighborhood food system and offer them an opportunity to make an intervening gesture to change it.”

As an artistic advisor to the Central Corridor Public Art Plan, Jones developed CREATE to show how public art is a social and systems-based practice that is essential to sustaining community engagement. CREATE’s strategic partners include the Minnesota Food Association, City of Saint Paul, Elite Catering, and Replace Design Studio. Artistic partners include visual artists Emily Stover and Mary Hark; spoken word artists TouSaiko Lee, Deeq Abdi, Laurine Chang, Nemo Farrah and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria; poet G. E. Patterson and Ananya Dance Theatre.

“Public Art Saint Paul brings artists together with communities to shape a public sphere that fosters imagination, explores civic values and the community’s evolving history, and strengthens public places as vessels of public life,” said Christine Podas-Larson, president of Public Art Saint Paul. “CREATE is one of our many projects that consider how art can illuminate conditions and change the way individuals behave and cities work as we chart the urban future.”

CREATE will feature:

– 2,000 handmade paper placemats made from Frogtown plant materials by artist Mary Hark and her community collaborators

– Two Mobile ArtKitchens by Emily Stover and Asa Hoyt

– A spoken word piece led by TouSaiko Lee, Deeq Abdi Laurine Chang, Nemo Farrah and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, with youth from Frogtown and Cedar-Riverside

– A poetic blessing by G. E. Patterson

– Choreography by Ananya Dance Theatre

Get involved
CREATE will continue to ripple throughout the community in years ahead as its Mobile ArtKitchens are deployed to demonstrate healthy food preparation throughout St. Paul neighborhoods. A host of partners will be engaged, including Youth Farms and the Science Museum of Minnesota Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center.

Members of the public are welcome to join CREATE: The Community Meal. 
Click here to RSVP and reserve your spot at the table. 

While places at the table on September 14 are limited to 2,000 people, event organizers are looking for volunteers to assist in event production and serving The Community Meal. 

Contact Public Art Saint Paul to learn more about volunteering.

CREATE couldn’t happen without generous support from the people of the Twin Cities.  Please consider making a donation to help ensure CREATE is a meaningful and joyful experience. 

Click here to donate to CREATE. 

To learn more about CREATE: The Community Meal, visit CREATE for regular updates about the event, partners, participating artists and farmers, and ways for everyone to get involved.

CREATE was launched with a Joyce Award of the Joyce Foundation. Major support is provided by the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, Knight Foundation Fund, Center for Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, General Mills Foundation Celebrating Communities of Color, HRK Foundation, Marbrook Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board Cultural Community Partnership, and 3M Foundation.