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Stockbridge Boiler Room works to bring community together with Love Feast

Every Wednesday, the Stockbridge Boiler Room hosts an evening of food and open mic open to all called Love Feast.
A previous Love Feast included pizzas cumulatively made from single ingredients brought by guests.

A previous Love Feast included pizzas cumulatively made from single ingredients brought by guests. /Brooke Collier

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Attendees of Love Feast sit together at a table.

Attendees of Love Feast sit together at a table. /Brooke Collier

The Stockbridge Boiler Room has been hosting an event every Wednesday for five years called Love Feast. Love Feast is a meal made and participated collectively by people in the Grand Rapids community from all walks of life- from people in the suburbs, to people off the streets.

“There is a sense of wanting to be a place of belonging for people in the neighborhood who might not feel like they belong anywhere. We just want it to simply be a meal around the table where anyone, all walks of life, every race, every class can just come and sit down around a table and have a meal together,” says organizer Tim Collier.

Love Feast started out in a garage at the Stockbridge Boiler Room with a small group of people who wanted to bring a sense of family to the neighborhood. After six months, it grew too large for the garage and was moved outside in the warmer weather. When the weather began to get colder, the Stockbridge Boiler Room found a home for Love Feast at the 5th Street Hall. Up to 100 people attend Love Feast each week.

“There’s a sense of relationship that I think is able to happen around the dinner table. There is inherent equality that is sitting around a table and sharing a meal together, because everybody has a place at the table. Everybody is sharing the same meal and everybody is looking each other in the eye, and it’s a place where it’s just about, ‘How was your day?’ and ‘Let me tell you about it.’ Another person is able to look them in the eye and listen. I think there’s something mutually right to me about that,” say Collier.

Another part of Love Feast is celebration. There is an open mic segment where people can share a song, testimony or anything else they would like to share.

“Even though it’s a large group, there’s a sense of safety. One girl shared a song totally in Spanish and she just said ‘I’m not gonna try to translate this because it would be hard for me, but I’m just gonna sing a song.’ She just let it be that, and just let it be her contribution,” says Collier.

People have begun to take ownership of the event, from signing up to organize a meal to just volunteering their time at the event.

“I love to see people coming into the kitchen and helping. There’s several folks who will come in, get plates and start setting the table. They just take it on as their job, and be a part of it. Seeing people take ownership of it as ‘This is not something this group does for me and I receive this,’ but ‘This is something that I’m a part of, and I have something to offer.’ Seeing that just happen has been really beautiful to me,” says Collier.

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