The SPACE Supper Club kicked off in a candlelit room, over a dozen people squeezed around a table of food they’d all cooked together.
Everyone knew at least one person — that was the plan of the supper club: invite six people to the table, have each bring a guest. The dinner was a manifestation of Liz Gibbs’ vision, which is to create connections among those who have backed Project SPACE.
The acronym asks those who join to Stand for Peace, Acceptance, Compassion and Equality.
“Food and wine naturally bring people together,” Gibbs said. “The cooking class and the dinner are really the connection piece.”
Gibbs, a marketing and brand consultant, launched Project SPACE this fall. It’s a membership program that encourages those who buy in to label their work spaces with a sticker. The circle-shaped stickers, which come in a rainbow of colors, have been appearing in windows around town and on the back of cars, distinguished by SPACE in white letters.
The sticker, Gibbs said, is a visual cue to those entering an establishment that those inside it will “hold space” for each other.
She smiled as she explained the concept, admitting the terminology can seem a bit out there when first presented. It sounds a little hippy-dippy, she knows, and there is some hidden meaning behind some of her branding. For example, an annual membership costs $33; three was chosen because it has many symbolic roots in numerology, including wisdom and understanding.
“Holding space” means many things to many people, but essentially it’s a commitment to withhold judgment. It’s a promise to hold your tongue and listen, to accept others and accept oneself, to keep an open mind.
“The more open-minded and open-hearted we are, the better for every interaction,” said Samantha Livingston, a Jackson native who signed on as a SPACE member after hearing Gibbs speak to Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates.
The Realtor group signed on soon after.
“Of all the things we get involved in, it was one of the most unique,” said Jessica Sheehy, the marketing director of Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates. “It’s really the promotion of something that is within.”
Livingston soon obtained a membership for her lifestyle photography business as well, Samantha Livingston Photography.
“I love her message — it’s coming from such a good place,” Livingston said. “The older you get, the more you want to be kind to people. I do, at least.”
In return for signing onto the message, Gibbs connects members to one another, starting with dinners where attendees roll up their sleeves, tie on an apron and make beef kabobs, quinoa salad and ice cream sandwiches side by side.
“I was expecting cocktails and socializing,” Sheehy said at last week’s supper club. “How fun is it to cook your own dinner?”
Last week’s SPACE Supper Club was the second in what is planned to be a series, stringing like-minded people together and building a community.
Gibbs brought a Polaroid to the latest event, suspecting the camera would spark conversations and interaction.
She was right. Diners who hadn’t yet met found themselves pointing the lens at one another, laughing and shooting pictures that offer immediate gratification as the photos develop.
“Each time I try to introduce something for people to connect,” she said. “This whole thing is an experiment.”
Much of her project was borne out of the August Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a place Gibbs once called home. Watching hate and violence overtake her home empowered her to fight back.
Her mission, as defined at WeAreProjectSpace.com, is to create a movement where “fear is replaced by peace, hate is replaced by acceptance, judgment is replaced by compassion and hierarchy is replaced by equality.”
And yes, she knows it sounds a little Pollyannaish It doesn’t change her belief that one person can spur a wave of change.
“I believe in the power of this movement to change the world,” she said.
“We really can change the world from our little town.”