Places, Spaces and Faces community dinner boasts home-cooked meals, human connections

Last month's Places, Spaces and Faces dinner took place on a Saturday night at Kitchen Sink Studios. The dinner offers a family-style meal and an opportunity to meet diverse community members. (Mauro Whiteman/DD)

As Arizona commemorates its 100th anniversary, a monthly potluck that brings together community members from all walks of life will celebrate its second year in downtown Phoenix.

This month’s Places, Spaces and Faces Community Dinner will take place Saturday at the MonOrchid Gallery on Roosevelt Row from 6 to 9 p.m.

The brainchild of architect and blogger Taz Loomans, PSF’s original mission was to highlight the interesting places of Phoenix. As an architect, Loomans said she was interested in spreading awareness of buildings and the businesses that operate in them.

But after two years of monthly dinners and handing the reins to a new group of organizers, Loomans said the event has evolved to focus on the third aspect of her idea — the faces.

“The faces is really more my part,” said Meghanne Bearden, one of the three current organizers for the event. “Taz brought her love of architecture. I’m focused more on the community-development aspect.”

Bearden said the group of regulars who attend the dinner have become her family, adding that she loves to see new people at the event.

“It’s nice to have family dinner sometimes,” she said.

Bearden attended the original PSF dinner in February 2010, at 401 W. Osborn Rd. Since then, the event happens in a different location each month, ranging from the Phoenix Public Market to ASU’s Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory.

January’s dinner was held at the creative advertising consultancy space Kitchen Sink Studios, at Third and Garfield streets. More than 40 people attended the event, sharing home-cooked food, myriad desserts and an assortment of wines and other beverages.

Terry Tang, another one of the event’s organizers, said the emphasis is back on the community. PSF’s goal is to bring the community together and make sure everyone can feel like a part of it, she said.

The importance of community also has played a role in Bearden’s event planning.

“I love Phoenix, and I want everyone to have the same opportunity to like it,” she said. “There are some really great things that happen here.”

Bearden said the event draws a wide range of personalities, and people from different disciplines are able to get together and connect on a human level. In the past, the event has drawn everyone from entrepreneurs to architects to community advocates. Even Mayor Greg Stanton has attended a PSF dinner.

“I love when people from the city of Phoenix attend,” Bearden said. “It gives a human face to City Hall.”

She added that one group has been noticeably underrepresented at the community dinner — students.

“I would love to have more students,” said Bearden, adding that she might look into hosting the event in conjunction with ASU in the future.

Doreen Pollack, executive director of the Valley Permaculture Alliance, said she enjoys the dinners because of the fascinating mix of people who have so much heart and substance.

“I like the deep friendships and the urban tribe that has emerged from it,” Pollack said.

Contact the reporter at mauro.whiteman@asu.edu

Correction: February 17, 2012

An earlier version of the photo caption in this article incorrectly said last month’s Places, Spaces and Faces dinner took place at MonOrchid Gallery.