Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year: Looking Forward on Family Dinner and more

Goodbye 2012, you son of a bitch.
-- My good friend Julian Fleisher's Facebook reflection on New Year's Eve. Yes, it got a lot of "Likes."
With the Hurricane Sandy disaster and the tragic killings in Sandy Hook, the end of 2012 has surely been one of the more difficult times in recent memory. I remember when 9/11 happened; it stopped me in my tracks. As the parent of young children, as a New Yorker, as a professional and political person (I was teaching Public Policy at NYU that year), 9/11 turned my world-view upside down, even though I wasn't "personally" affected. This fall felt a bit like a flashback of that terrible fall 11 years ago. Though I feel deeply lucky and grateful that my family and loved ones are safe and sound, I was still struck by a need to reflect, take stock, and brood over what next steps I should or could take in light of these events.

I haven't been posting very much, in part because I have felt torn. So many of my emotions and thoughts were tied up in issues that were only tangentially related to family dinner, if at all. As a country, we need sane gun control. As world citizens, we must confront and act on climate change. As members of our community, we must look for ways to keep making a difference and help each other, neighbor by neighbor. On a personal level, I knew what to do: give time, give money, give blood, share a political petition or two, give some more money. But, other than a prompt to discuss these matters at the dinner table, how would those topics fit into this blog on family dinner?

Promoting family dinner and spreading the word about healthy eating at home and at school is still at the core of my work and advocacy. But there's a wider universe of solutions that can improve public health and the well-being and resiliency of children and adults in my community. In addition to nutrition and access to good food, we can and should talk about ideas like livable streets, urban gardening, green infrastructure, and ways to support children and adults with better education, safe streets and more economic opportunity.

I am pushing back against my old habits of dividing my alliances, which started back in middle school. I didn't think my "nerdy" school friends could possibly relate my "cooler" neighborhood friends, so I always tried to keep them separate. I've been inadvertently doing that by keeping my community activism separate from my work in promoting healthy food and family dinner. Foolishness really; it is all more connected that we realize. As this world of expanded social networks shows us, more is more. More friends, more connections, more topics clashing is not something to be afraid of. Synergies and big ideas are only possible when you mash-up unexpected skills, talents, and interests. I hope to do more of that this year, both online and off; I'll just have to try to figure out how.

Here's my idea for new beginnings in 2013: I'll keep the Eatdinner.org blog and the Eatdinner Facebook page focused specifically on healthy eating and the benefits of family dinner. I'll not shy away from my opinions on more diverse topics on Twitter (@eatdinner) or in person. I hope you'll continue to follow me in all these venues and that we can continue our conversations and debates together and learn from each other.

Despite the heartbreaks of 2012, in this new year, I am looking forward. I am re-thinking how to best channel my passions and advocacy into making the world, especially my local community, a better place. I am actively seeking opportunities to improve my community in Brooklyn and New York City--if you live or work nearby, I'd love to connect with you to discuss specific projects, or maybe just have coffee. If we already know each other in the blogosphere or from the neighborhood, feel free to connect with me via LinkedIn. Of course I'd love to have you follow me here, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Here is to a bright, happy and healthy 2013!


  1. Hi Grace! What a great post - and happy new year!

    I actually see these as very related and important to family dinners. Our dinner table is typically where we talk about how we can make the world a better place. I don't burden my children by talking about these heavy issues with them, but I bring the conversation up a few levels and help them become aware to hunger, poverty and certain topics that they can "see" and find ways to help.

    You'll find the right balance and way to talk about things you're passionate about - I have no doubt!

    Best wishes and cheers to 2013!
    Feed Our Families

    1. Thanks so much for your support Gina! Happy New Year to you and your family!


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