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In food education, the quality of being offline together

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As of the first of the year, Community Table has been spreading. The simple weekly meet-up that Food Sol launched two years ago as makeshift “office hours” at Babson now gathers weekly in Boston as well – and, as of this Friday, monthly in New York.

This Friday, March 14, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. will be our first in a regular series at NYU Food Studies Program in partnership with Foodmaker Media.

With notable frequency, people reply to invites to Community Table with one of the following questions:

Can I phone or Skype in?

Can you send me notes from the meeting?

Do you ever film these discussions?

We appreciate all interest, but we find ourselves wondering what actual value any of these options would provide. Perhaps it’s FOMO, but there seems an almost perfunctory push to digitize and codify everything—even an organic conversation.

Sometimes there is simply no replacement for in-person, fully attentive human to human interaction.

Last week, Babson Professor Fritz Fleischmann described the quality of being off-line together as “not necessarily efficient, but absolutely effective. Gatherings like Community Table allow people to push limits in their thinking and actions that they can’t simply sitting in front of a computer screen, no matter what’s available to them online.”

Drowning in the deluge of “the Stream,” it’s become a feat of mental discipline for any of us to stay focused on one thing at a time. One of my favorite business strategy writers, Greg McKeown, calls this addictive distraction The No. 1 Time Management Mistake.

For those of you food entrepreneurs and students of food in the New York Metro area – we have a few spots left. So consider unplugging with us for a few hours over lunch (it’s BYOBB) and feed your mind the “old school” way.

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