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The Sunday Brunch (Updated)

How do we connect people across generations using a common activity? What if we could create a a weekly ritual where two people can build a bond by cooking and sharing a meal together? Now creating a toolkit here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xIifbz5GUIBuHXTqTUAZgP6mHYR2-50VbPK14Xy2_Jg/edit?usp=sharing

Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
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How would you describe your idea in one sentence?

A toolkit that teaches nutrition, self-reliance, and culinary skills while also creating a bond that allows informal communication.
I was watching the TV show Parks and Recreation the other day, where a very self-reliant character (Ron Swanson) tries teaching a caring person (Chris Traeger) how to work with wood. Along the way, Chris ends up learning parenting skills while they both silently work on building a crib together. There are a lot of physical and mental benfits to manual work. For those who partially engage with it, solitary manual work can be a luxury: an opportunity to be introspective. Some people like to work with others, it is an opportunity tp get to know a person and to bond. Putting Ikea furniture together has taught me more about my friends than conversations over a meal in a restuarant.

Keeping that in mind, what sort of manual skills would be useful for people of all ages? I had initially thought about wood working or soldering, but though they are good hobbies, I don't think it is a generalizable interest. What about cooking? People of all ages have to eat, right? Cooking is a vastly under rated skill. Over time, it teaches you patience, judgement, planning, resourcefulness, and more importantly, nutrition. It is also a task that requires coordination and collaboration, opening up opportunities to have informal conversations. Wouldn't it be great if we could create a ritual, two people of different ages, experiences, backgrounds, problems and knowledge spending sunday mornings planning a healthy meal, buying the ingredients, cooking a meal together and sharing it over a conversation where they disucuss their lives and issues they face and/or care about.

In order to facilitate this, it woul be awesome if we could build a toolkit that provides simple guidelines about health, nutrition, seasonal ingredients, and cooking. I see this concept as a second-step, it would certainly have to build upon other the other ideas posted here that connect young people to seniors. The goal is this: once the two people are connected, there is an invitation to meet for a sunday brunch with a toolkit attached that has guidelines about how to go about making it happen. Here are some rough throughts about the contents:

1. Introduction (Goals, Benefits, Restrictions, etc.)
2. Nutrition 101 (What do we need in a daily diet and where can we get it?)
3. Sourcing ingredients (The fresh vs. frozen debate, local producers, how to select vegetables, how to store meat, etc.)
4. Basic combos (A quick introduction to flavors, spices, processes, tools and techniques)
5. The cookbook (A collection of easy, healthy, tasty and cheap recipes that are fun to make. Don't believe it exists? Check the attached cookbooks below)
6. Theme of the week (Each week, along with the "featured" recipe, it be interesting to see if we could provide common topics of discussion. Very broad ones like "Technology", "Health", "Jobs", "This week on Reddit", etc.)

The main goal is for people to have a common purpose, a task that becomes a ritual, something that gives people an opporunity to talk while keeping themselves busy, while learning basic skills that is useful in their everyday lives. Though it is not a way to initially conenct people, I'm sure it will help build a relationship.

UPDATE:
After a few conversation, it seems that one of the issues that comes up is where the sunday brunch should be held. The location is important since it should be a safe place that does not infringe on anyone's privacy. Though hosting it at one's house seems simple, not everyone may be welcoming of that idea. Therefore, we believe that hosting sunday brunches at community kitchens which are open to the public, would be a better idea since it provides the right environment for the teens and seniors to meet, cook, and talk. In this model, we would have to work with organizations such as the Food Bank that offers cooking classes and nutrition workshops for seniors. The long-term goal would include creating a program with local community kitchens, which would act as local hubs, where seniors and youth can participate on sundays.

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

UPDATE: In order to make this idea sustainable, we are planning to make the toolkit open source so that it can be utilized by any local community kitchen with a few tweaks to fit the lcoal context. Inspired by Avi's idea, the recipes themselves will also be open source, with new ones being added and curated by users themselves. We would also work with the local foodbanks who will organize the Sunday brunches to print cards with recipes on one side and topics of discussion on the other so that the information is available off line.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to test any assumptions you might have about your idea?

The main assumption is that informal interactions are increased while performing manual tasks that require some skill and are collaborative in nature. The second assumption is that people can learn by doing. It would be interesting to observe these phenomena by studying how people interact in situations where strangers meet to perform simple tasks together. A few examples would be cooking or woodworking classes.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input, skills or know-how of our OpenIDEO community?

Wouldn't it be awesome if we could actually build a toolkit together? I would love to collaborate with anyone who is interested by this idea.

34 comments

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Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
Team

Hello Everyone, I have created a Google Doc where we can create a toolkit together. So far, I've added some useful resources that I've found on the web. Let's collaborate. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xIifbz5GUIBuHXTqTUAZgP6mHYR2-50VbPK14Xy2_Jg/edit?usp=sharing

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Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great stuff, Ashwin. Did you want other people to be able to add to this doc as well? Currently it's set up as View Only – but you can easily change that from your end.

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Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
Team

Thanks Meena, I've changed the permissions now.

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Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Sweet – added a quick thought there :^) Looking forward to seeing how this develops.

Also started me thinking – as you develop your idea further, might be good to think about fine tuning your 1 sentence description. Feels like the central place for all of this might be a website and the toolkit would be part of that? And perhaps weekly mailouts to users, featuring news and fun assignments? (or am I on the wrong track here?) If there's a website, folks could upload pictures and stories form their interactions and the site could feature the best ones weekly? And maybe we could encourage some inter-generational interviews around food related topics (video or written) to be posted as well ?

Something you and others might want to think about here, is how might we focus the initiative on inter-generational interactions given that all kinds of other people could be interested as well. We're sure there are some great opportunities lurking around this and we'd love to hear thoughts from our community!

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Meena, I agree that a website which allows to build a community and to share recipes as well as experience should be the core. You could imagine that people could print out some "cards" with recipes and themes / conversation triggers.

Regarding the inter-generational interactions, I agree we should focus more on this aspect. I remember this recipe book that one of my friend has and that was the notebook that her grandmother had put together.

This summer, my kids and their cousins planned a dinner and cooked for the grown ups. It was funny to see them discussing recipes they knew or wanted to try out, and then making a list. A few of them went to the market the next day. Listening to them, it was interesting to see that while they were cooking for both their parents and grandparents, they really felt that they were making a gift for their grandparents. They kept talking of what might their grandparents like. The day they cooked, they asked for help and we ended up at one point with 7 kids (between 14 and 4), their grandmother and grandfather, and some of the parents working together on cooking the meal. A great example of intergenerational activities.

On the importance of food and relationship, I found this article interesting: http://momitforward.com/connecting-through-food

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Photo of Leigh Cullen
Team

Well done Ashwin. I like how you found a point of commonality and created a fun experience around that. I can see how this has appeal across a variety of arenas: expanding the cooking repertoire, exploring cultures, investigating healthy options with others, and forming the cornerstone in a trusting relationship in which to share further skills.
Awesome job!
Leigh

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Photo of Amber Capehart
Team

You might consider collaborating with local community colleges on this venture. Those that have a culinary arts department might welcome a hosted workshop with the given kits where future chefs cook a meal and forge a new bond with an older member of society. The college student might learn a new technique or skill that will benefit them later in their career.

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Photo of Guy Viner
Team

Hello Ashwin- I'm really inspired by your idea and the engagement I'm seeing around it. Glad to see you participating in the challenge! Bettina nudged me to think about some existing mechanisms that can leveraged or built off of to prototype or publicize a similar concept. I have a hunch that her suggestions may be useful for the sunday brunch as well:

https://openideo.com/challenge/youth-mentor/ideas/learning-from-dinnersurfer#c-00e57c91caa7c527617c07908a24df5c

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Nice idea Ahswin. I like the idea of building relationships through a priori mundane tasks while providing a context for other conversations and also teaching important skills. The toolkit will be a great starter. However, I'm wondering if you could also imagine that one of the 2 persons could also bring in some of their own recipes.

Reading your idea, it reminded me something that my father in law started 3 years ago during the summer when his 9 grand children get together in his house in the South of France: dinner cooked by the children for the grown ups. The making the dinner involves doing the shopping (going to the market in the village), cooking, and serving the dinner. The kids (btw 6 and 16) loved it and were expecting it the second year (some even have started gathering recipes!). The kids did a great job thinking about the menu, but also the decoration and creating an atmosphere.

I am also wondering if you could think of having people meeting in a shared / community kitchen as it might make easier the meeting and might also add serendipity.

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Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great to have you back on another challenge, Ashwin! Loving your thinking here – and A-L's potential build around what her father did. Something to think about is how you'd attract younger and older people to the program (especially the first time which might include thinking about how to create trust between strangers) Super excited about seeing this idea grow – and we're digging the notion that you might build something out during the challenge. I wonder if a lightweight experiment could be to actually try out a cooking session between a younger person & older person to see what can be learned towards evolving the potential for interaction?

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Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Thought you might find this article interesting as you mull over this idea further as well: http://www.citylab.com/tech/2013/08/sharing-economy-want-change-way-you-eat-dinner/6389/ I also read one this morning about the latest swathe of European food sharing sites but can't for the life of me find it now!

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Thanks Meena for 2 inspiring articles. The communal and relational aspect is mentioned in many examples without mentioning the key aspect of co-sharing economy. Reading the first article and the point about logistics, I could not stop think from the "lunchbox" and the dabbawallah system in Mumbai.

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

About the connecting young people and older people, I think Avi's idea of interview of "my best / favorite recipe" is a great idea.
I like the idea you had Meena about cooking between a young person and an older person. I have many anecdotal evidence about the power of these interactions in the kitchen.

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Photo of Paul Reader
Team

I agree Anne-Laure.
As an older person living alone I could benefit from learning skills and techniques in the kitchen from the younger generation. I say learning because I see this as a key element in the process of mentoring. Simply assisting or doing things for me would not be in the same category. Of course the sharing of knowledge and skill both ways is probably the most ideal situation.

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Paul, you're right that learning is key here. Simply doing things for someone else is not the best idea.
I think that, as you suggested, the learning here would not go both ways. It might also be that older persons would also teach skills to younger people and through this process would learn too. I personally think that you learn as much by teaching than being in the position of the learner. :-)

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Photo of Paul Reader
Team

I could not agree more Anne-Laure!
I have always found one of the best ways to consolidate my own learning is to impart it to others, and this is true at any age.
It would be natural for learning to go both ways but I am keenly aware of the core premise of the challenge.
Ashwin's toolkit concept has great potential to achieve this.

Spam
Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
Team

I was actually inspired by my experience of cooking with my grandmother. She had a PhD in nutrition and was terrible in the kitchen, while I was always interested in cooking. We ended up creating weird meals that were healthy and not very tasty but it was fun because we would talk the whole time. I know that an informal conversation relies on people knowing each other but I'm hoping that a collaborative task will act as a catalyst.

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Photo of Guy Viner
Team

Anne-Laure- I think you're bringing up a great point by suggesting that users should be able to contribute their favorite recipes or practices to customize the toolkit as they see fit. Some kind of customization could increase the sense of ownership and participation users feel for the toolkit. This definitely seems like something that can be open-sourced and iterated as a community.

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Photo of Guy Viner
Team

It's really great to see your team's thinking and collaboration evolve on this feed. I'm enjoying watching you all bring this idea to life!

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Photo of SYEDA KHADERBI
Team

Hi Ashwin,

Will you please specifically & exclusively explain as to how cooking together as per your Idea "The Sunday Brunch" rightly fits into the given theme: How might we inspire and engage young people to support older adults through mentorship?

Further, I invite your valuable comments on my “IDEA” captioned as “MAGIC CLASSES” under Ideas Phase of the Challenge “How might we inspire and engage young people to support older adults through mentorship? ”, so as to utilize them while updating the Idea.

The contents so far stated under my Idea are just useful for initiating the implementation of the project, i.e., it is just an entry point to gather easily the youth & Older-Adults together under disguise of “Magic Classes” in any habitation/area/locality. Much more has to be added to develop it into a full-fledged Idea. Your comment will guide/enable me to bring-out the material stored in my mind in a complete & perfect form.

Expecting needful cooperation by way of your tricky comment, which is most worthy for developing my Idea. Please help me learn more from your benevolence.

With Best Regards,
SYEDA KHADERBI, M.A., M.Com.,

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Photo of Paul Reader
Team

Hi Syeda,
To answer your question about cooking specifically.
My younger son (who is 26 rather than 24) is a far better cook than I am.
My cooking skills would surely benefit by him mentoring me.
He is also an accomplished musician my piano playing would no doubt improve by having him tutor me for some months.
Although Ashwin puts forward cooking as a universal skill, one in which we might all have an interest, the principles she is developing for that skill can be applied to many others.
Carola's Live Anthropology concept ( https://openideo.com/challenge/youth-mentor/ideas/live-anthropology-peek-into-the-lives-of-your-community#c-9b7531178ffff07a03d08e2d2f9f4620 )is on a similar plane, as I believe is Magic Class,, it is the process or mechanism that differs.
Because OpenIDEO challenges are not competitions we try to build on each others strengths. There is still room for us to criticise too since in doing that we help each other to overcome deficiencies.

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Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
Team

Hi Syed and Paul, my goal was to create a concept that tackles the continuity of engagement. Though cooking is the main activity here, I am hoping that it will also be an opportunity to learn about nutrition and self-reliance. Also, I see it more as a platform of engagement, a reason for two people to meet every week and build a relationship. The goal is giving them something to do while they discuss topics that are relevant to their lives.

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Photo of Paul Reader
Team

Thanks for clarifying the objective Ashwin.
You are right about the need to look at continuity of engagement as one aspect of the possible range of interactions that represents the field of the challenge.

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Photo of SYEDA KHADERBI
Team

Hi Paul and Ashwin,

Cooking may enable in continuity of engagement and leave an opportunity to discuss and learn somethong. This platform may create two people to meet every week and build relationship.

My question is whether this itself suffice to achieve the solution/s in compliance of the given theme?

At OpenIDEO, what is more surprising me is that the Theme would contain or demands numerous tools/elements/components, but almost all the participants are trying to show the solution for just one of the tools/ elements/ components. I am unable to digest this longing for partial solution.

Another thing I don't like at the OpenIDEO is that if one publishes his fresh contribution/idea, within no time a number of similar ideas will be published in a new dressing drafted with the different words. I found that such dubious ideas are being selected at the OpenIDEO. This is also a bad practice.

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Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
Team

Great point. I strongly believe that one overarching solution to the problem is difficult to come by. Rather, as many ideas with as much feedback will go a long way in creating a diverse array of perspectives on how to solve the problem. By collaborating and building upon the ideas of others, we can hopefully come closer to an integrated solution. For example, this concept would have no value without another, lets say, the networking concept. I agree with you that sometimes it's strange to see very similar ideas being posted one after the other, but I guess by becoming a virtual team you can improve the ideas together.

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Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on this post being today's Featured Contribution!

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Photo of Avi Solomon
Team

Awesome concept Ashwin! How about having the younger people interview older adults about "My Best Recipe", document it, help cook and learn how to cook it, and transmit it forward long after the initial contact has receded into the past?

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Great idea Avi. It's a nice way to start the conversation.

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Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
Team

It would be cool if they could document it somehow and share notes on their experiences. Not only would it be interesting to learn from others, it is also an opportunity for reflection.

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Photo of Adah Parris
Team

I love this idea and it reminded me of the Casserole Club (https://www.casseroleclub.com). Maybe you can expand on their original concept or consider partnering up to use it as a resource for finding potential cooks already willing to do something for someone else.

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Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
Team

This is awesome, thank you Adah. I'm definitely going to look at it in detail to see if we can incorporate it or partner with them.

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Photo of Kenneth Walton
Team

Great idea Ashwin, nothing bring people together like a good meal. There is a real family type of relationship that can be created with this. I do think by adding the speed dating to your concept we would have a stronger overall idea.

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Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
Team

Definitely, this concept is an opportunity to develop the relationship that begins at the engagement stage.

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Photo of Ashley Jablow
Team

Love the idea of building the toolkit during the challenge! Glad to see you chiming in here, Ashwin.