Oliver Social (formerly Oliver Community Dinners) was a grassroots initiative co-founded by a small group of friends living in the Adelaide CBD in 2012. In our fairly quiet and settled city, it’s not always easy to meet new people. Our goal was to create opportunity for building community through social connection and food.
How it started
It began with four housemates hosting an open-invite community dinner each week in our home. Open to old friends, new friends, travellers we’d meet, new people to town, or anyone else we crossed paths with during the week. The culture we strive for is welcoming, open, honest and generous. 15 months later we had attracted a strong core community, and the structure changed so that dinners now rotated between houses and hosts each week, in or near the city. Between October 2012 and October 2016, dinners were held consistently every week. In 2017, we reduced the frequency of gatherings to monthly due to changing need in the community.
How it worked
A Facebook platform kept everyone in the loop with who was hosting. To ensure sustainability, everyone contributed $5 towards each meal, plus an optional drink to share. Everyone contributes in this kind of space – the host doesn’t do the dishes and isn’t left out of pocket.
After five years in December 2017, regular dinners came to a finale to make way for more spontaneous, ad-hoc gatherings.
Oliver Social is not an ‘official’ organisation. It is a community-driven network that works because lots of people contribute, lots of people benefit, and lots of people want it to grow. It is self-funding and not led by any one person.
Like this idea?
While we don’t publish the details of Oliver Social dinners publicly (to privacy of the hosts and community members), if you are interested then please contact me and I’d love chat with you about how you could start something similar. We reckon this model is something you could replicate in any city or suburb with a small number of people committed to get it started.