The Common Table is a design research project that is the outcome of an 8 month (April 2014 – November 2014), speculative exploration into the potential for design to transform the future of East Lansing’s urbanism by building a unified community (town + gown) around emerging, sustainable models for food systems. A shared meal around a common table is a powerful site of socially unifying exchange. Here, we share and build culture through the flavors, textures and techniques of food and the ideas and stories told and heard through the time of the meal. Recent trends throughout North America have reflected a growing desire to foster spaces of cultural exchange through the emergence of markets and community meals, such as CREATE in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Beyond individually organized meals or market stalls, The Common Table produces a site of confluence for the senses and catalyzes urban exchange centered on the production, distribution, education, cooking and eating of food. The table fluctuates between the global scale of markets and exchange and the intimate scales of interaction and sobremesa*. In urban terms, The Common Table fosters the economic and agricultural networks that possess the potential to redefine a new agenda for the 21st century and provide a strong urban figure for the daily exchanges that define vibrant cities.
* sobremesa (Spanish) describes a period of time enjoyed, around the table, when you continue to converse, long after the meal is done, with your company.
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