The basic premise is simple: Potters and other craftspeople, educators and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity.
There are Empty Bowls events popping up all over the county as well as internationally. Seattle Empty Bowl event is this Sunday 3/18 at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard from 4-7. Donations for bowls are a minimum 15$, an many of the beautiful bowls, one is even painted to look like Lisbeth Salander, will go to a silent auction. This is Seattle’s 4th Empty Bowl event and all the proceeds go to The Ballard Food Bank. The soup this year is donated by Ballard Market and the the bread is from Tall Grass Bakery. The Seattle branch of Empty Bowls even offers pet bowls so that the whole family can help to fight hunger.
I have attended the event every year since they started. I love the community aspects to the events, where the diverse community of Seattle gathers for one meal, together, to do the little we can to help our local food bank. There is always some kind of live music or entertainment, resonant of FolkLife, to accompany the festivities. The food is always excellent. I particularly love the fact that Empty Bowls combines activism with art and community. I would be lying if I said that every time I ate cereal or soup out of one of my Empty Bowls that I thought about homelessness. However I do use these bowls with guests, which usually leads to a great conversation about art, hunger, homelessness or outreach. My Toms shoes never have lead to such a conversation.
I have interned for the past year and a half or so at Union Church. Part of my internship has been to try and incorporate art into worship and the life of the church. Every 4th Sunday of the month, Union is the only Church I have ever known that counts our Sundays like this, we worship through action. We gather for a short time on Sunday morning to read scripture, sing and pray before we are dispersed throughout the city to sing hymns with dementia patients, make sandwiches for Immanuel Community Services, gather food for food banks, and be a Christlike presence in Southlake. The 4th Sunday in January, I, along with some volunteers and a congregant who is a fabulous ceramic artist were privileged to actually get our hands dirty and make bowls for Seattle Empty Bowls. It was a great time of community, watching toddlers try and eat the clay, adults attempt to remember what their Junior High art teacher had told them about air bubbles, as well as see bowls take shape under our own hands.
I would encourage you to come out to Empty Bowls this Sunday, eat with your community, support a local food bank and local artists, and perhaps even buy one of the bowls I clumsily made.