The holidays are upon us, and people from all around are getting together to celebrate with family and friends alike.
It’s a time of festivities and feasting, and food has long been considered a cornerstone of culture. The old familiar sights and sounds as the table is set, the food is served, and the conversations begin.
For this special “Foodie” issue of 605, I talked to Hugh Weber, founder of The Potluck Society podcast, about connections and what they can meet for our community.
“Contribution is the foundation of traditional potlucks,” said Weber. “The idea of The Potluck Society is simple. Everyone must contribute and bring an idea to pass.”
The podcast, which is hosted by South Dakota Public Broadcasting, brings together members of the community to discuss themes and ideas that help celebrate the stories of people that oftentimes get overlooked.
Since its inception, The Potluck Society has played host to an eclectic range of guests, such as start-up executives, community coaches, artists, musical producers, and neuroscientists. Each episode begins with a theme that guests are encouraged to discuss, and put their own viewpoints onto a wider community issue.
“It’s not enough to simply react to stories that you hear,” said Weber. “You must come with the willingness to share your own unique story and give the community, the people around the table, an opportunity to listen and respond”.
And what about the audience and the community at large? How have they been responding?
“It has been absolutely thrilling. I get feedback from guests that say they openly weep when they hear their stories shared,” said Weber. “I couldn’t have imagined the community that has grown up around this podcast. I can’t wait to see what they do next”.
Weber, a Network Theorist and self-proclaimed “small town kid,” is no stranger to bringing communities together. In addition to The Potluck Society, he was also the founder of OTA, a for-purpose organization that connected creatives working to build communities through North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. He is also co-host of Leading Good, a podcast designed to inspire leaders of non-profits, social enterprises, and social impact brands, and to give them the necessary information to help build towards the greater good of society.
What inspires him to continue to be such an advocate for these communities?
“The small towns throughout rural America have a real deficit of celebration,” described Weber. “We believe that if we just go about our work and do a good job – that’s enough. However, I believe the uniqueness that resides in the small towns deserves to be celebrated. Their stories deserve to be told.”
In an effort to further continue the progress of the podcast, Weber has big plans for the future. On December 1, SDPB will host The Potluck Society LIVE at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, and will feature special guests, regional speakers, and live performers. He also plans to take the show on the road in the spring, behind the wheel of a 1968 International Harvester Metro Mite truck named Pearl, to further the quest of bringing small town stories to light.
Each episode of The Potluck Society finishes with an “action antidote:” something that the listener can take away and perform to encourage connection. It is this that makes the podcast more than just a passive form of entertainment – just as the guests are encouraged to contribute their idea, so too are you invited to play your part.
“I believe we are at a pivotal moment in American culture. The shared narrative between small towns and large urban centers has fallen apart. I believe that by sharing the stories of small communities and the people that make them thrive, that we can begin to reweave the social fabric of the country,” said Weber.
“We do this for ourselves, but we also do so for everyone else.”
SDPB presents Potluck Society Live takes place on December 1 at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls. Early bird tickets are $100 each, and are available until November 15. For more information, visit thepotlucksociety.com
The Potluck Society Live
$100 (early bird)