As part of its Rise Above initiative, UnidosUS hired Spitfire to work with its Affiliates to organize five events in cities across the country to bring people together and have discussions that would lead them to find strength in diversity.
Based on the Supper United concept pioneered by Conexión Américas and Dirty Pages in Nashville, the Recipe for Unity meals gathered people around one table, where they shared a dish or a recipe that was meaningful to them, their families or their cultures. By recruiting a wide mix of people and facilitating a conversation around food traditions, UnidosUS hoped that guests would celebrate their differences and be able to see their commonalities clearly, too.
In January, Spitfire set out to research, plan and execute these meals. The process began with the decision to change the name of these events to Recipe for Unity to make the title more representative of all corners of the country and facilitate adoption of the model outside of the South. We conducted overall level-setting calls with each of UnidosUS’s chosen Affiliate hosts, where we discussed everything from big picture strategy to event specific details including possible dates for the events, the general format for the dinners, possible locations, and potential invitees.
“…guests at each of the five events left the meal with new friends and a newfound – or newly revived – sense of community.
Over the course of February and early March 2018, Spitfire worked with Affiliates to hone their guest lists, develop media pitches and handle event logistics. All five Recipe for Unity meals took place between March 4 and March 16, each with a different flare based on the local community and host Affiliate:
- Durham, NC, with El Centro Hispano
- Memphis, TN, with Latino Memphis
- Tampa, FL, with RCMA
- Phoenix, AZ, with Valle del Sol
- Alexandria, VA, with Mary’s Center
These events produced strong results for the Rise Above initiative, including media coverage across markets, a robust conversation on social media that reached nearly 2 million people, and commitments from attendees and local organizations to host their own meals. But the most important result of all is intangible: guests at each of the five events left the meal with new friends and a newfound – or newly revived – sense of community. Attendees were even inspired to host their own events, to keep their newfound sense of community growing. Together, UnidosUS, its Affiliates and Spitfire created spaces where Americans sat around a table and shared a dialogue that rose above the vitriol, and brought people together.