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Co-Founder & Executive Director
The Dinner Party
Prior to launching The Dinner Party, Lennon spent nearly seven years at Ashoka, the world’s leading association of social entrepreneurs, where she most recently served as the Community Director of its Start Empathy Initiative. She has written for CNN, Forbes, Open Democracy, EdWeek, YES! Magazine, and GOOD, among others, and is an Aspen Ideas Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill.
Thanks, Ken! And yes: It's such an important point. We're adamant about "no advice-giving" and the idea that what works for one may not work for all, but we've seen again and again people take inspiration from one another, both when it comes to particular religious/cultural practices they may not be familiar with, and personal rituals/practices of individuals' own making. We want to be sure to a) create something that captures real diversity of story and experience, so that readers can see themselves within it, b) avoid anything that feels directive rather than invitational, and c) create something that can be easily tailored to specific communities, ensuring it stays culturally relevant and peer-driven.
Thanks, Bettina! And hi there, Justin! Suffice it to say: We love this idea. Strikes me that some elements of the guide are universal, whether you're in Louisville or the Golden Isles of Georgia or Oakland, CA: Helping people to understand what their options are, and to master all the vocabulary out there (hospice vs palliative care, home funerals vs green burials vs cremation, and their various intersections), as well as nationally-active orgs. And then there are those that are place-specific: Which care-providers and services come recommended, and to what end?
I could imagine a collaborative working group creating the backbone, with a structure through which local orgs could then fill in the portions that are specific to their own communities, using Louisville as the prototype.
For a subject as intimate as this, we've found that the critical thing is to lead with real stories of real people, ensuring that you've captured enough diversity so that every reader can see themselves reflected in the pages. You want it to feel friendly and accessible, avoiding anything that feels institutional or like the "yellow pages" for EOL. We're biased, but obviously love the idea of organizing a dinner series to help surface those stories (in partnership, for ex, with the orgs you mentioned serving local immigrant and refugee populations). We've got an active table in Louisville, and are happy to help however we can. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.