Re-imagining The Holidays: 2017 Holiday Giving Project
We invite you and your family to join us in rethinking the meaning of gift-giving by making a gift to Marnita’s Table, this year’s recipient of our Holiday Giving project. By redirecting a portion of our holiday spending to a local nonprofit that advances racial equity, we can each strengthen our community ties and rekindle the season’s true spirit.
With a focus on racial justice and community building, we’ve chosen Marnita’s Table as the recipient of the 2017 Holiday Giving project. Marnita’s Table is a local organization that is dedicated to bridging gaps across difference. Working with neighborhood groups, government agencies, schools, and faith communities, Marnita’s Table empowers people of all ages and backgrounds to make genuine changes toward equity, inclusion, and understanding.
Your donations are welcome at any time from now through the end of the holiday season. On December 17, our worship will include the gathering of our gifts and a celebration of our generosity. Donations may be made through the church website or by check, payable to First Universalist Church. Please write “Holiday Giving” on the memo line. We’ll have a cash jar in the social hall after services too.
2017 Holiday Giving Recipient: Marnita’s Table
Marnita’s Table was co-founded in the living room of Carl Goldstein and Marnita Schroedl in 2005. The non-profit originally launched to ignite enduring cross-cultural connections through intentional social interaction. The first 14,000 of the over 40,000 guests who’ve attended a “Table” actually came to Carl and Marnita’s little Dutch colonial located at the north end of Lake of the Isles. Guests were served a feast that satisfied everyone from vegan to carnivore, with the food lovingly prepared by Marnita.
Marnita, raised in the foster care system and emancipated at the age of 16, said: “I never want anyone to feel unwelcome in the way I felt growing up. I will feed anyone who comes to my door.” The idea that ALL people need to feel as though they are welcome and belong, not just those with material resources, is at the heart of Marnita and Carl’s innovative “feast & dialogue” concept.
They began hosting groups from 30–50 people to catalyze authentic relationships and find common ground across difference. They soon recognized that “Intentional Social Interaction” wasn’t just a method, but rather a model now fondly called “IZI.” They’ve trained over 1,500 home hosts whom are conducting IZIs in community centers, church basements and other people’s homes all over the country.
Imagine if Marnita’s Table had the resources to be able to drop on the ground and host a giant Intentional Social Interaction (IZI)! Imagine thousands upon thousands of people across race, class, culture and other means of self-identity, coming together to visually, viscerally, peacefully problem solve and enjoy one another while having a giant feast appropriate from vegan to carnivore! Imagine the clear choice between love and hate. The choice of collaborating and honoring one another instead of giving over to fearful white supremacy and exclusion.
What Our Holiday Gift Will Help Accomplish
The Table is seeking funding to decrease disparities and increase equity by expanding the reach of the Intentional Social Interaction (IZI) model, making it possible to offer IZI Training sessions throughout the Metro area, greater Minnesota, and nationally. Expanding IZI training capacities will help our community directly address systemic inequality throughout the country by moving the work forward themselves. These trainings endow participants with the power to make concrete changes toward equity and inclusion in their neighborhoods, schools and faith communities. Many IZIs focus on high-priority issues like health care inequities or youth of color in the criminal justice system; our gift will foster deeper conversations that align with our church’s social values.
- Kitchen Table Conversations for Everyday People – Civics with Civility, to help everyday people bring their friends and family together across political difference calmly and peacefully.
- Training rapid response teams to deliver pop-up tables with supporting tools.
- Partially fund Decision Point! 2018 to bring together faith communities, law enforcement, legal professionals, social workers, youth and families for a deep dive into the criminal justice system and what we can do to better support youth and families who have had contact with that system.
Your support this holiday season is invaluable for addressing the urgent need to build authentic relationships and partnerships across race, class and culture in the Twin Cities and beyond.
Coming Together to Create More Seats at the Table
The Holiday Giving Team consists of people with a variety of backgrounds and stories. Click through the audio profiles below to hear reflections on Marnita’s Table from some of the volunteers working to make the project happen.
Past Holiday Giving Recipients
In 2013, we worked together to support “The House That Love Built” through Habitat for Humanity.
In 2015, we partnered with Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative to expand the ways we can give the gift of home.
In 2017, we’re partnering with Marnita’s Table.
The Powerful Impact of Beacon, our 2015 Holiday Giving Recipient (recorded at First Universalist Dec. 13, 2015)
Garlicia Montgomery is a young woman who has lived at Beacon’s Nicollet Square. Listen to her powerful testimony about the impact that Beacon has had on her life. “Thank you for helping me build my future,” she says.