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Year: 2013

On 10/18, in association with The Feast Worldwide global dinner party movement, a group of 40 people gathered in Mexico City to address the Learning and Health challenge and dig into identifying local solutions. 

The event was attended by a professionally diverse group of people: 2 public officials, 3 university professors or admin and 3 university students, 4 businessmen from leading corporations, 6 people from NGOs, and many passionate, bright-eyed entrepreneurs. This assorted mix of people represents exactly the kind of potential for cross-disciplinary partnerships that are so important to The Feast. Dinner organizer Julio Salazar says he took this as an opportunity to invite “people we know and people we wanted to get to know.” 

The night began with a series of networking and games, as well as an introduction to The Feast Worldwide before inviting people to sit down to dinner and dig into the challenge briefs. With 5 people per table, participants were invited to choose which topic (Learning or Health) they wanted to investigate more deeply and brainstorm solutions. 

Salazar says that the greatest success of the event was making new connections to influencers in various sectors; even if specific projects that came out of the dinner are unlikely to continue, this burgeoning network now has countless opportunities to build out new initiatives. Some ideas that were being circulated included a gender and sexuality campaign at a local university and enlisting the Director of Social Innovation at Nestle to address these particular challenges more deeply in the company’s work. 

The dinner party was hosted by a local restaurant that is typically open for just lunch, so this proved a great testing ground for them to try to attract a dinner audience as well. Salazar says it was a great success and hopes for more collaborations in the future. 

Want to know more about Mexico City’s feast? Check out the video, here:


In Denmark, the Learning Challenge was handed over to the learners. Lene Jensby Lange works at Auten’s Future Schools and has a strong interest in education reform, particularly when it comes to improving learning environments. So when she came across the Feast Worldwide Dinners, she thought it was the perfect opportunity to tap into little minds on how education can be improved.

“I always love to give the word to the kids, to the learners. We don’t do it nearly enough. So I thought that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to invite some kids over to talk about school and education,” Lange said. 

It was Autumn break in Denmark so the last thing most kids wanted to think about was school, but Lange was still able to gather five kids between the ages of 9 and 19 in the Auten’s office meeting space to face the challenge. The got settled in, ordered pizza, then the youth split up and discussed. They got creative making mind maps and even a video with their insights.


Lene says the kids enjoyed the activities and engaged pretty quickly. They had a lot of input.

“It always amazes me how quickly kids relate to the issue about schools and learning— and how they all have things that matter a great deal to them that they readily share. Experience schools and learning through the yes of the learners always makes a big impression on me and their messages to school are always very much along the lines of what we know from research about learning and development. This also means that incorporating learners’ views locally in school development makes a lot of sense— we don’t have to get all our inspiration from research, professors, big univerisities, etc. We can just listen to the learners that we have right next to us,” Lene said.  

To see more on what the group did check out their blog post on the Denmark Worldwide Dinner at

The Feast Worldwide 2013 Dinner Parties

On October 18, 2013 thousands of people around the globe came together at 7 p.m. local time to eat together and discuss The Feast’s Learning, Health and Veterans Challenges. Almost 200 unique dinner parties started a worldwide dialogue for good. This month we’re highlighting a few of them. Stay tuned for more coming soon from The Feast Worldwide community.


Photo courtesy of Zach Barr.

Zach Barr is a designer that focuses on music and space. He does a bit of everything else too, but his main interests lie in that.

During The Feast Conference 2013 he created the freight elevator music and what was played as speakers entered and exited the stage. After the conference we caught up with him to learn a little more about what went into making it.

The Feast: You have a lot of different things on your website—poems, interior design, photography, music you seem to be a jack of all trades…

Zach: I find them all to be interesting and all to be mutual. One idea of one thing feeds into another. They all inform one another.

The Feast: What’s your favorite song or piece you’ve created to date?

Zach: I had a great time this past April working on an installation as a member of the Brooklyn-based design collective Salty Labs. A live string quartet played Beethoven’s Op. 59, No. 1 in an abandoned house in Providence, RI. Using special microphones that slip down into the instruments (in order to isolate the sound of each instrument from that of the others), we sent the sound of the instruments into separate rooms of the house. Audience members, instead of staying seated to watch and listen to the performance, were invited to move around the house and listen from a variety of angles… 

Pulling the sounds of the instruments apart across space like this allowed these musical conversations to really come to life. A number of audience members commented that it was as if the house had been singing the music. The experience changed from something that would have otherwise been front-loaded and flat, like looking at a picture on the wall, to something really immersive and physical. 

The Feast: What is your creative process like?

Zach: It definitely involves a lot of drawing and writing. I like to look to the physical world to find musical ideas and to the musical world to find ideas about design. I might see something like a gear turning in a machine, and it will spur some idea about how two instruments could work together in a piece of music. I find it helpful to not only write about these observations and ideas, but to draw them as well. Drawing is an incredibly powerful tool and often much more efficient than using words. 

Collecting is also a big part of the process. I’ve been working on building a library of sounds for a number of years. Recently I’ve been doing the same with photographs, videos, and words. These days we’re lucky to have very high quality archival tools — field recorders, cameras, etc — that are small, portable, and relatively inexpensive. This makes it easy to bring a field recorder along to capture the sound of any object or environment I might encounter on the day-to-day, which is great because I never know when I might find a great sound in a particular cabinet door or in a person dragging a trash bin across the sidewalk in the early morning. 

I bring these recordings home and chop them up in the computer, organizing the bits into folders with labels like ‘Pop,’ ‘Scratch,’ ‘Swish,’ and ‘Shuffle.’ I pull from this library of raw sound to make percussive instruments or build long textures of sound that can accompany other instruments. It’s nice to be able to use these sounds like globs of paint, each with its own color and texture and way of blending with other colors. As many musicians like to sample the music of other artists, I really enjoy sampling the music of materials and the physical world, 

The Feast: What goes into making music that people wouldn’t normally think about? Do you get your own songs stuck in your head?

Zach: Totally. For the thesis project I was recording sounds of everyday life at home. I was cleaning the top of the stove and recorded that. The rhythms that came out of that act of simply scrubbing the stove were incredible; it was like really great drum beats, like something in hip hop, but you don’t hear that normally because they’re not repeated. It was super catchy.

The Feast: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

 Zach: A lot of times I think about taking something I don’t like and making it into something I do like. You think you know yourself, but you can be surprised. I take things that you wouldn’t normally put together. That constant discovering of what you can do with limited means is always surprising. It’s always thought provoking.

The Feast: What do enjoy least about what you do? 

Zach: That’s a good question. I guess there are certain times when you have to sit at the computer for long time and be alone. So it’s hard to have friends over while you’re trying to make music.


When Zach isn’t out and about recording eveyday sounds he’s designing at the design and construction firm Hecho Inc. in Brooklyn. See more of his work at his site


Photo courtesy of Zach Barr.


Photo courtesy of Holly von Hoyningen Huene.

While the Learning Challenge was quite popular in other featured Worldwide Dinners, over in Berlin 13 people from different sectors, countries and cultures came together over dinner at a local restaurant to  talk about the Health challenge. Feasters got a peek into their night when the group hopped on Skype for a video call to the conference, but much more continued to happen that night. 

Dimitra Zavakou, who attended the dinner said it was an amazing night and even included music and art that was put on by the cafe-type restaurant. She said having the topic of health and well-being made the dinner that much better.

“I was really excited for the dinner because it was something new for me, and I like participating in new ideas…When I left I was actually kind of on a cloud. It was really amazing,” Zavakou said. 

The discussion was so fruitful that a project idea emerged that Zavakou is currently pursuing. The idea revolves around bringing people back to nature and health with authentic vacation experiences that get urban folks more in touch with nature, their food and each other. 

“It’s, for me, something I did from my heart. So it cannot be stopped in a way,” she said of the project.

Zavakou is eager to connect with others interested in the project or working on projects of their own. She is The Founder and Director of Little Popup  where she specilalizes in the concept generation, organization, and production of innovative popup shops and can be contacted here

The Feast Worldwide 2013 Dinner Parties

On October 18, 2013 thousands of people around the globe came together at 7 p.m. local time to eat together and discuss The Feast’s Learning, Health and Veterans Challenges. Almost 200 unique dinner parties started a worldwide dialogue for good. This month we’re highlighting a few of them. Stay tuned for more coming soon from The Feast Worldwide community.


Photo courtesy of Veronica and Alvaro

Veronica Acosta and Alvaro Velosa are a pair of architecture graduate students at Parsons The New School for Design. Veronica is originally from South Carolina and studied architecture as an undergrad at Clemson University, while Alvaro did the same in his native state of Florida at Florida International University. Shortly after graduating they both ended up at orientation in Parsons In New York City where they met and have worked on various projects together. 

They shared one such collaboration with The Feast as their bar modules were originally an assigned project in material exploration with homosote, a recycled paper material. Veronica and Alvaro worked among other student teams with the goal of submitting the winning proposal and having the opportunity to actually build their creation at an annual design expo in Chelsea. They didn’t win, but were still able to have their project featured. 

 “The Feast was an amazing opportunity to bring our project back to life. We couldn’t do it for the class, but we brought it to The Feast, ” Veronica said. 

The outcome was a set of homosote modules that were used to build the bar among other ways that Feasters could create, use and interact with them at the conference.


Photos courtesy of Veronica and Alvaro.

The Feast followed up with the two creatives after the conference to hear more about their work.

The Feast: What’s your favorite project to date?

Alvaro: This is the one that’s kind of had the most level of completion. We went through all the design work. Then we went through prototyping and then to the actual physical implementation…

Veronica: … and then experiencing people actually interacting with them. So it came full circle.

 Alvaro: Exactly. So in that regard it’s pretty exciting.

The Feast: What’s your creative process like?

Alvaro: This one [project] was really specific because it started with the material itself. So we had a really clear start point, and the end point was also as clear. The brief was, as an academic project, that it was going to be a temporary installation and that people were going to be interacting with it. So the process started with the material and just kind of experimenting with it and just seeing its limitations and opportunities, like tectonic opportunities and material characteristics. So that was kind of specific for this project.

But other times—we also worked on a housing project together in the South Bronx and that was a completely different process.

Veronica: It was a lot bigger scale. It was an entire housing block.

Alvaro: So instead of engaging with the material, we engaged with the neighborhood.

The Feast: Is there anything that goes into doing what you do that people wouldn’t normally think about?

Veronica: So another thing that we did together this past summer with a group of students, we did a renovation of a recreation center in Washington Heights. I learned so much about the putting together of materials and the tools that you used to make them that after that experience I feel like I’ve looked at details, like building details or details of anything and almost say that could have been better or think “oh, how did they do that?” because that looks really cool. So I look and I think maybe for the regular person, until you have an experience like that when you’re so in touch with doing that process yourself, you kind of overlook all the little details. But afterwards you’re like, “Oh man, I remember doing that and it took me like four hours.” And there’s like a million of those connections there.

The Feast: What about you Alvaro? You can’t copy.

Alvaro: I can’t think of one. Skip. Pass.

The Feast: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Alvaro: One of the things that I enjoy a lot is trying to force myself to understand something from the point of view of whoever designed it, built it, whatever it is. And seeing that as kind of like a model and understanding it and then trying to challenge ways in which it works, like why does it work that way? Kind of questioning it and then finding some inventive or funny way to suggest something other. I think that’s what I have the most fun wrapping my head around.

Also meeting people along the way is a really awesome aspect of it.

Veronica: I think a huge part of architecture is problem solving, and I really enjoy that aspect of it like having some kind of thing you’re trying to solve or accomplish. Then thinking about all the steps to get there.

The Feast: What do you enjoy least about what you do?

 Veronica: For me, the scale of time that it takes to get anything done. If you think about an architecture project, even remolding or just building an interior project, it takes a lot of time and you have to go through a lot of paperwork, and if you’re doing anything with the city there are a lot of things you have to go through to get there.  Also just like the field of architecture, if you want to get licensed you have to— there’s all these rules like work for three years, take exams… I mean they’re super important, but that’s what it takes to call yourself an architect like a doctor calls themselves a doctor, but it takes a lot of time.

Alvaro: There’s a lot of things—not sleeping as much, drinking too much coffee…


Veronica and Alvaro will continue exploring how their interactive modules could work for other local events. They both are concluding their second to last semester of grad school. See more on the homosote modules on their site or check out more of their work on each of their portfolio sites: and

You can also check out a video of Veronica and Alvaro assembling the modules here


Photo by Knack Factory for The Feast.


Audra Pakalnyte, creator of Plate Culture, typically connects people through organizing small dinner parties where people gather in homes over authentic meals. In October she hosted a much bigger dinner party.

She hosted the Kuala Lumpur Worldwide Dinner.

Fifty strangers including entrepreneurs, educators, developers, fashion designers and more gathered in a spacious apartment as an alternative to a typical Friday night out in Kuala Lumpur. They dug in to both good food and good conversation swirling around the topic of local education. 

“The atmosphere grew warmer when everyone helped themselves with hearty home cooked dinner prepared by a few home grown chefs and it got even hotter when debates about learning picked-up. Education is quite sore spot in Malaysia, everybody were sharing their personal experiences and ideas on how to make it better,” said Pakalnyte.


The group tuned in to The Feast Conference 2013 live stream for several hours, and they even hopped on Skype to say hello to Feasters in NYC.

The dinner was potluck-style with five people offering to bring in several dishes each for the large group. Pakalnyte led and moderated the evening. She had people working in teams, and there were even prizes involved.

Pakalnyte said what Feasters in Kuala Lumpur enjoyed about the evening was being part of something bigger. 

“It’s happening and people are talking about it, and you’re not alone. You’re part of the movement.  People enjoy it because you’re part of the bigger picture,” she said. 

Pakalnyte said the conversations sparked a few project ideas, including one unrelated to the Feast Learning challenge. 

The response to the evening was so great, that there is another event already in the works to be held between Christmas and New Years and also focusing on social entrepreneurship. 

See more pictures from event here.

The Feast Worldwide 2013 Dinner Parties

On October 18, 2013 thousands of people around the globe came together at 7 p.m. local time to eat together and discuss The Feast’s Learning, Health and Veterans Challenges. Almost 200 unique dinner parties started a worldwide dialogue for good. This month we’re highlighting a few of them. Stay tuned for more coming soon from The Feast Worldwide community.


Photo courtesy of Matt Shlian

Matt Shlian is a paper engineer. That’s not to be confused with an origamist because, in his words, he gets to cheat. He works with paper that’s not always confined to squares, and he gets to do more than just fold it. 

For this year’s conference, Matt crafted over 400 small twist open boxes that lined the walls of the freight elevator at the venue, Center 548. Feasters rode the elevator and retrieved their name tags from each of the boxes that Matt had waiting for them. 



Photos by Knack Factory for The Feast.

After the conference we caught up with him to hear a little more about what else he does with paper. 

The Feast: How long have you been working with paper?

Matt: Just over a decade.

The Feast: How does one get into paper engineering?

Matt: I got into paper engineering as an undergrad. I originally went to school for ceramics, but I realized early on that I was interested in everything. I studied, glass, painting, performance, sound and by the end I had a dual major in ceramics and print media. I wasn’t making traditional print or ceramic work at that point. Instead I would create large digital prints, and I used a series of cut scores and creases to create large scale pop up spreads. I was making these four foot v-folds or strut fold pieces. I really had no idea what I was doing. I wanted the work to be interactive and for the image to relate to the folds. I loved the immediacy of paper as a medium. I also loved the geometry. Figuring out the pieces was like solving a puzzle. I’m a highly visual person; I have to see something to make sense of it.  One of my faculty advisers, Anne Currier, started buying me pop-up books, and I started dissecting them and figuring out how they worked. It took off from there.

The Feast: What’s your favorite piece to date?

Matt: Unlean was a unique piece for me since it was commissioned to be in a children’s hospital. I love the idea that art can temporarily take you away from whatever it is that you are dealing with and transport you. We installed the piece —it is robotic, under plexi glass and low to the ground— in October and went back to document it in December. The whole surface was covered with kids’ nose prints. I knew it was a good piece then.

The Feast: What goes into creating these pieces that people wouldn’t typically think about? Are there papercuts involved?

Matt: Yes, there are papercuts involved. That’s absolutely true.

The Feast: Where does your artwork end up?

Matt: Everywhere—in public spaces, in galleries all over, people always email me and ask for something—I think it’s the first year anniversary that’s paper or they want something they’ve seen online which is interesting. You make art for 10 to 15 years, and the amount of people who have seen my work but have not actually seen it in person always surprises me. I think the work really shifts when you actually get to interact with it in person.

The Feast: What’s your creative process like?

Matt: Each piece is a little different, so it depends. Generally speaking, I don’t always know what I’m doing, at least when I’m starting a new piece. I always have to have some sort of restriction or limitation to work against, like working with all white or monochromatic. Picking a color palette brings certain restrictions.

There’s a quote that says ‘The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.’

My worst fear is as a client if someone says ‘Matt, we have a lot of money and you can do anything you want.’ I’d rather someone say ‘go to the dollar store, spend five dollars and make us a piece of art’ rather than ‘we have a million dollars make us something spectacular.’ I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

The Feast: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Matt: I get to do what I want to do. Growing up I worked every terrible job you can imagine. I worked at ice cream stores, Blockbuster video, a deli… but the idea that I get to come to my studio every day and make my art,  that I get to work with really creative people—I have no complaints about that.

I feel so fortunate that I can do that.

The Feast: What do you least enjoy about what you do?

Matt: This is a minor gripe, but it’s when people don’t necessarily value the arts in a monetary sense.

You wouldn’t go buy sandwich and not expect to pay or not give money for your time.

This is a job, you know. A lot people expect that offering exposure is enough. Support your artists, that’s what I’m saying.


Matt is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. More of his work can be seen at He and his wife have also created another website where they both sell smaller handheld work that can be seen


Photo by Knack Factory for The Feast.


We were thrilled to kick off the first of our event series last month with a number of Feasters! Just before Thanksgiving, we gathered in Projective Space in the Lower East Side for an evening on taking the courage to express gratitude and sharing our own. 

The question of the night: Why don’t we give thanks?

Our founder Jerri Chou did what she does and opened the night, getting everyone excited and inspired to explore the good in giving. 

Dev Aujla had us pondering the things that hold us back from giving. He gave us wonderful insight and challenged us to give ourselves permission to be genuine and vulnerable with one another. 

He also talked about how to best do good in giving

“Give the right resource to the right person at the right time” —Dev Aujla

Feasters did an activity where they wrote a “letter of truth” to someone they didn’t know and enjoyed some pre-Thanksgiving pies. It was the perfect start to our monthly event series!

To top it off we did a little giving of our own. One hundred percent of the ticket costs went towards the Super Typhoon Haiyan Emergency Relief Fund. 


The Feast now has more ways to get in on the good with our monthly event series. Each month we’ll invite our community to join us for snack-size versions of The Feast Conference that include great speakers, great activities and a more intimate setting. Stay tuned for more throughout the year from The Feast. 

The band Great Caesar discussed their mission to make meaningful music with an impact. They talk about their experience in making their vision a reality with the crowd-funded music video and the story behind the song “Don’t Ask Me Why.”

The band Great Caesar discusses their talk at Feast, where they discussed their mission to make meaningful music with an impact. They talk about their experience in making their vision a reality with the crowd-funded music video and the story behind the song “Don’t Ask Me Why.”