Building Community

chalk sign

If you’ve come for a meal at Common Ground you know we’re a little different.

You know, for example, that instead of a menu of options, we offer a single meal each day, prepared from scratch in our Kitchen. It’s a practice started by our predecessors, the wonderful folks of Vegetable Land (who are now doing Pop-Up Club vegan gatherings) and when we took over at the beginning of 2017, we kept doing it. (cf: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) 

Sometimes when new people call or come in, they’re a little nonplussed by the absence of options. They ask for a menu, and we say, “Today we’re serving vegan lasagna with salad. Would you like a plate?”

Not that we want your meal to be a surprise to you when you come. We post our weekly menu every Sunday on our Facebook page and here on the website, and send it out via our email list. So you can know what you’re walking into.

Still, different.

We’ve considered adopting a more conventional approach. A fixed menu. Choices. It would certainly be a more familiar experience for our guests. More like other restaurants.

Do we wish to be like other restaurants?

No, we don’t.

What we wish is to be part of a strong local community. Our work is all about helping to build that community, and we do it one meal at a time.

chickpea wrapsThink of it this way: when we prepare and serve a single lunch each day, everyone who comes is being nourished from a common source. Everyone shares in the communal experience of having what everyone else is having. It’s like an extended family dinner, taking place over the three hours each day we serve.

In other words, you’re partaking in a community meal, each and every time you eat here.

Included in that idea of community are the people who grow the vegetables we serve. It is no small delight to be building relationships with local growers who nurture the plants that end up on your plates. Growers like Turning Point Farm in New Harmony, Indiana, and Beautiful Edibles in nearby Paradise.

When we serve this local produce, when you enjoy it with us, we all become part of a web of connection, our well-being tied to that of the growers, and to the health of their farms, the health of the local soil, and to the policies and practices that make those farms and that healthy soil possible.

red and gold peppersBuilding community is not an intellectual exercise for us. It’s not a thought experiment or an abstract concept. It’s an understanding that we are made from the fruits of the same Earth, right down to our very cells. As we build our physical bodies from the same good food, prepared by people who care about it, and when that food is grown by still more caring people right down the road, we’re building common bonds of the deepest kind.

Sharing food is one of the oldest and surest ways to reinforce our connections to each other and to this place in which we live. We don’t need to force it. We can just sit down for a meal. It’s there in every plate we serve.


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