For Everyone a Garden was a dinner symposium and performance I organized and led at The Perch, a Chicago-based social project venue.

The event revolved around themes of Utopia and autonomy, loosely prefaced by Hakim Bey’s idea of “Temporary Autonomous Zone” and his assertion that a dinner party can be one example of a TAZ. More specifically, we focused on what Bey calls "the always ongoing revolution of everyday life", to frame dialogue about strategies for dealing with our individual and collective struggles in the environment of advanced capitalism. Each participant was prompted to bring and present an object, image, text, etc. relating to what Utopia means or looks like to them. Their presentations drew from diverse influences in art, architecture, political theory, economics, social justice, community, family, spirituality, and more.

The meal component itself was designed to muddle the dynamics of the dinner-party-as-TAZ theory. The dinner menu was not revealed in advance, and no one was permitted to “order” or request particular foods. Instead, the kitchen crew were given the autonomy to decide how ingredients would be interpreted, combined, and presented. For each course, the ten participants were served a unique plate different from everyone else’s meal — as such, they were encouraged to negotiate and exchange foods with each other in order to realize their own ideal dinner.

To learn more about the event, see my discussion here with writer and arts facilitator Collin Pressler.