Dinner with Strangers: A Unique Approach to Community Collaboration

Learning Approach: Best Practices

| Sheraton New Orleans, Napoleon C | Posted: Sunday, 8:00-11:00 a.m.



Dinner with Strangers

Discover the unique community opportunities that can arise when "town and gown" are brought together through a collaborative event that engages the resources of the local creative economy. Dinner with Strangers, a recent collaboration between the University of Alabama and the community of Tuscaloosa, Ala., brought students and community leaders together for critical discussions about local food, music, visual expression, and downtown revitalization through a series of blog interactions and artistic dinner events. Hear firsthand accounts of the Dinner with Strangers experience in Tuscaloosa, including both the challenges and achievements, from a variety of perspectives.

Learning Objectives:

    1. Discover the concept of Dinner with Strangers as a collaborative community experience and how it fits within the realm of the creative economy
    2. Learn to recognize the importance of grassroots networking, relevant technology, and cultural authenticity in relation to the Dinner with Strangers experience
    3. Find out how to maximize the relationship between "town and gown" in communities of all demographics and the potential for collaborative events such as these in creating solutions for the challenges facing Main Street-related organizations across the nation.
    4. Attendees will be able to identify the resources and opportunities available in their own communities to create a collaborative community experience such as Dinner with Strangers.

Learn more: www.ferguson.ua.edu and www.tuscarts.org

For more information contact:

Heather Roberts, University of Alabama

Heather Roberts is a Coordinator of Student Programs for the Ferguson Center Student Union at The University of Alabama, where she works specifically to develop events and initiatives that allow students the opportunity to engage in the local community. She holds an M.A. in American Studies from UA, where she completed extensive research on cultural economy and downtown revitalization trends, and has worked in a variety of professional roles in campus and community programming. Having lived in New Orleans briefly to work for the Contemporary Arts Center while in graduate school, Heather now returns periodically each year to serve as an event coordinator for events such as White Linen Night, Bourbon & Burlesque, and Art for Art's Sake. Heather's two greatest passions are live music and good food--both inevitable and lifelong obsessions as she is the proud daughter of a seasoned musician and an inspiring cook. She is a native of Columbus, Mississippi

Sandra Wolfe, Arts & Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa

Sandra Wolfe, Executive Director of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa since August 2010, previously served as Director of Educational Programs since 1998. Ms. Wolfe has a B.M. in Music Education from Capital University, an M.M. in flute performance from The University of Southwestern Louisiana, and has completed doctoral work at The University of Alabama. She is a graduate of the Leadership Tuscaloosa Class of 2001 and is active in civic affairs. She is an active performer and plays in the Tuscaloosa Symphony and the Huntsville Symphony. She is married to Tom Wolfe, jazz guitarist and Associate Dean of Fine Arts and Humanities at The University of Alabama. They have one son, Zachary, who is a junior at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.