The arts collaborative Spatula&Barcode invite you to “listen in” on a dinner conversation about “Civic Engagement” on Sunday 6 December from 6 to 8 PM central time.  

To register for the event, go to:

an empty dining table with 8 chairs below two large photo tapestries on the wall depicting black figures posed behind a table

Dinner guests include socially-engaged artists and designers, recently elected state officeholders, scholars and community activists:

Patrick Anderson (in San Diego)

Kenneth Bailey (in Boston)

Jalessa Bryant (in Madison)

Mahnker Dahnweih (in Madison)

Aram Han Sifuentes (in Chicago)

Francesca Hong (in Madison)

Alfonso Morales (in Madison)

The event is the sixth one in a series called Come to the Table. Each public dinner conversation in the series has focused on a different facet of generosity: art, care, hospitality, philanthropy, and refuge.

We became interested in adding a dinner conversation on the topic of Civic Engagement to our series on generosity when, early on in the pandemic, it seemed that all the messaging was about personal safety rather than public health.  It made us wonder under what circumstances people are  moved to act for the public good. The racial justice protests that dominated the spring and summer, as well as this fall’s highly contested elections, made clear that there was a need for substantive conversation on this topic.

The upcoming discussion on civic engagement will be built around the guests’ own questions.  These include:

What was the process or the pivotal moment that moved you to become involved or to renew your engagement with public service?

In the midst of a global pandemic, what are your strategies for engaging community-based collaborations in ways that also nurture the affective connections from which so many people are in isolation (in lockdown and/or quarantine)?

What gives you hope? What keeps you going? 

How do you seek out community?

(How) do Black, Indigenous, and POC communities benefit from participating in electoral politics?

How do we bring an awareness of affect and affective politics into our collective discourse on public trust, democracy and sharing social space?

When is there Civic in the absence of Engagement?

(How) is art a form of civic engagement?

Knowing that you benefit from some of the ways society is currently set up (culturally, institutionally), what are you willing to give up or destroy for the public good?

Is “civic engagement” generous?

Originally, the meals were scheduled for the Chazen Museum—we moved our own dining room table in and hosted the first three events there. During the COVID closures, our dining table was locked in at the museum, but we hosted the final two meals from our home online. You can learn more about the prior events on our blog in this series of  posts that begin with this one:

This new event will mark the return of our table to our home. We’re sad that guests cannot sit at a dinner table with us but the advantage of the Zoom format is that it allows us to extend the conversation to guests at more remote locations and also makes it possible for the public to “eavesdrop” and to pose questions.

To register for the event, go to:

With other questions, or if you encounter any difficulties in the registration process, contact:


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