Saturday’s Dinner at the Well is much more than just a meal: It’s an opportunity to sit down with people different from you.
Those who buy tickets for the gourmet meal will be paying for one meal for themselves and another for a person living on the streets.
The dinner is a fundraiser, but it’s also a way to open the lines of communication.
“Having a meal together is one of the greatest ways to build community and to get to know people that you might not otherwise have a chance to meet,” said Meg Martin, one of the event’s organizers and the director of the Interfaith Works Shelter.
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“I was downtown on Christmas Eve, and the people I saw on the street were all kids,” said Lela Cross, the co-creator of Dillinger’s Cocktails & Kitchen, who is organizing food for the dinner. “There are a lot of homeless kids. We see them every day, and somehow something has to change.”
But while the dinner is about much more than food, organizers are also touting it as a gourmet three-course meal. The food will be served in a heated tent.
Among the dishes to be served are baked salmon from Dillinger’s, vegetarian lasagna from Swing Wine Bar & Cafe, spring pea soup from Quality Burrito, and beer macaroni and cheese from Three Magnets Brewing Co. Other contributing restaurants and shops are Abby’s Cupcakes, Fish Tale Brew Pub, Gyro Spot, Little General and Obsidian.
There’ll also be live entertainment, with Greta Jane Pedersen and Andrew Dorsett of the Greta Jane Quartet entertaining for the noon seating and Jemmy Joe playing classical guitar for the 3 p.m. meal.
The dinner will raise money for recreation and entertainment programs offered at the Artesian Commons by Partners in Prevention Education, one of the groups that offers programming as part of the Olympia Outreach Workers League. The league has committed to offer 20 hours of programming between spring Arts Walk and fall Arts Walk, said downtown ambassador Brian Wilson.
“PiPE has done movie nights at the well,” said Renata Rollins, an organizer of the event and a member of PiPE’s board. Future programs could include picnics, screen-printing and DJ nights like those organized last summer by Rodney O’Neil of Barb’s BBQ.
“I spend a lot of time at the park just talking to the kids about what they want to see in the space, hearing their ideas,” Rollins said. “Then, working with the kids there, and with PiPE's people and resources, we can look to make some of those ideas happen.”
“When we have a programmed event going on at the well, it is safe,” Wilson said.
“It draws diverse user groups. The whole atmosphere of the well completely changes, and it’s not because the kids who hang out at the well on a daily basis go away. It’s because they have something to do.”