4th of July: The Value of a Potluck


don’t eat at home if you’re all alone there
come and hear the world band play
life is a BIG potluck my friend
come to the grand buffet

don’t fret for time or what you should “prepare”
share “what you’ve got” today
life is a BIG potluck my friend
come to the grand buffet

tell ev-ry-one
“come join the fun!”

no need to “fit in” you’re IN if you’re OUT
diVERsity rules the day
life is a BIG potluck my friend
I know some pots I can recommend
life is a BIG potluck my friend
come to the grand buffet!

(Music by J. Kandar, words by R. Ott. Performed at Jubilee Community)

Not too long ago I (or, rather, my alter-ego the Grand Nudge) shared some ideas for how to know if you can get along with potential housemates in a shared living situation. The impending holiday has brought up another idea which can be used to determine compatibility before changing your living arrangements and to share your new community with your surrounding neighborhood.

This miracle event is the humble potluck.

Everyone’s been to a potluck party sometime in their lives. You bring a hot dish or a cold salad and add it to the impressive table of handmade food from everyone else attending. You want to try just a little taste of everything but soon your plate is overflowing with potato salad, broccoli casserole and barbecued chicken. These parties can really bring a community together.

There are two possible uses for the potluck when it comes to building your future community:

  1. Determine the compatibility of potential housemates.
  2. Introducing your community to your neighborhood.

Let’s take a closer look at these ideas.

Housemate Compatibility

So far you’ve done everything by the book to meet new people and start to move forward with your shared housing plans. You have a handful of folks who might fit the bill but how do you know for sure if you can live together? Here is where the potluck can come in handy. Invite all potential house mates to a back yard party. Be specific with requests and ask everyone to help out in a different way. This can tell you how everyone follows directions. You can see if the really care about the party or if they just phone it in. See if they are on time or if they’re more than just fashionably late. Watch who helps clean up or who decides to sit and watch at the end of the event. This can tell you a lot about whether or not you can see yourself living with any of these people in the future.

Community Introduction

After you’ve moved into your new shared housing arrangement you may want to introduce your unconventional household to the surrounding neighborhood. Whether they say it out loud or not, your neighbors will be very curious about this new group of people living next door. If you don’t give them an opportunity to ask the questions you may find yourself the center of some pretty interesting neighborhood gossip. Head this off at the pass and invite everyone to a back yard potluck. Your household can provide the main dish and desserts so ask everyone else to bring sides. This can be a great way to get to know the people around you and share with them the ideals behind community living as you age. You may be surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response you’ll get.

So as we celebrate the 4th of July, keep the humble potluck in mind as a great tool for engaging and creating community both in your own home and in the surrounding areas.

We want to hear from you! Have you had a positive experience with a potluck in your community? Share your story in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook!

For more information on how to determine housemate compatibility, check out my guidebook Your Quest for Home available on Amazon.

Women For Living in Community