OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

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:

Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
34 17

Written by

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.

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.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi

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.

Photo of Meena Kadri

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.

Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi

Thanks Meena, I've changed the permissions now.

Photo of Meena Kadri

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!

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

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:

View all comments