“When does it start?”

I attended the Potluck Protest in Dallas, TX. When I got to Reverchon Park, I was a little early and ran into a friend who was helping her mom set up one of the food vendor stations. So I volunteered to help set things up, and quickly found myself in the back of one of the organizer’s pick-up trucks transporting folding tables, chairs, and sound equipment to the outdoor event area. Read on if you’re thinking of attending/organizing a Potluck Protest in your city — I have also included information on how to contact The Potluck Protest at the end.

Meet the organizers below:

Jeziel Jones & Deah Berry Mitchell

Once we got our base camp established, a few more volunteers showed up with more supplies and we all got to work setting up tables, chairs, food vendor stations, water stations, audio systems, and directional signs. At the scheduled start time, we had music playing off of one of the volunteer’s phones (which was set to play music by Lauryn Hill and Beyoncé) and also started to see all of the food vendors showing up including Bam’s Vegan, Hardeman’s BBQ, Avery’s Popcorn, Hall’s Honey Fried Chicken, Frosty’s, One Love Lounge, and Cooking with Carmen.

All the way from the beginning, I felt a sense of safety and community. Everyone who showed up early on (mostly volunteers and vendors) would come up and ask “Do you need help?” or “Where can I set down these supplies?” The best part is…no one was wearing uniforms or giving instructions, everyone was free to come and go as they pleased and help out wherever they felt most comfortable.

A Note on Covid Precautions: Most of us who arrived early had masks on which I think created additional sense of precaution and awareness. And when the larger groups of people showed up, almost everyone seemed to automatically social-distance as a result. And a special effort was made by the organizers to place food tables in such a way that people could line up to eat without being crammed together. We even pointed the speakers away from each other to further encourage people to keep a healthy distance from each other while listening to music and/or speeches. I had my own hand sanitizer, and all of the food vendors had gloves. This particular park also had signs placed throughout the park reminding people to social distance. NGAN volunteers were also handing out free masks for those who needed them.

The event began with a little music, and then a lot of food, and lots of people just talking with each other. And getting to know each other over food. I was standing around people watching and just minding my own business when some one nearby got my attention and asked me:

I was so jarred by this question. In my own mind, I had to double check if I heard the question right. Internally, I wondered if I was missing something. Was there some huge ribbon-cutting planned or some sort of celebrity about to make a welcome address to kick things off? Nope. None of that, just a classic mismatch of expectations. And so I responded to this guy:

I guess some people have a hard time categorizing an event like The Potluck Protest. It’s not church. It’s not a music festival. It’s something else. Something that we desperately need more of in all of our communities. It’s not a show. It’s not a display. It’s just a scheduled time and place to eat and mix with your fellow humans.

I left The Potluck Protest for a while to go check out the other events happening around the park. It was a hot sunny day, and the NGAN had organized a Black Lives Matter march, so I joined them on my bike for a few hours of peaceful protesting around downtown Dallas, and then returned to the Potluck Protest area. Not surprisingly, all the food was pretty much gone after hundreds of our tired protesters made one pass through all of the food vendor stations. This observation told me that Jeziel’s experiment worked beautifully. And so as the sun began to set, I left wondering not so much about the guy asking “When does it start?” and much more so thinking about how much I hope it never stops.

To get in touch with The Potluck Protest, please visit: http://thepotluckprotest.com/ (full list of events) https://www.instagram.com/thepotluckprotest/ (DM’s get a quick reply!)

To support the The Potluck Protest, please:
1) Donate their official GoFundMe
2) Share/retweet on social media (+ invite your friends to their next event!)

Written by

Traveling Music Teacher & Journalist

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