photo courtesy of Trish MacCabe
As coordinator for Neshoba’s Circle Suppers, Trish MacCabe is responsible for planning the monthly potlucks and informing participants where they will be meeting and what they are expected to bring. Trish gave such an excellent interview I decided to post our conversation verbatim:
1) Why did you sign up for Circle Suppers and what did you get from it?
Neshobans are some of my favorite people…. I just can’t get enough of you all. I am not sure that I could live here were it not for Neshoba. Circle Suppers give me a sense of community and place. The food isn’t bad either! Also, I think of UU’s as very intelligent people. I can only hope that being around such brilliant people will rub off on me, just a little.
We found out first UU church in WA state and went to one of their Circle Suppers early on. We found it was a great way to enmesh ourselves with the church quickly. For us, church is a better experience when we would walk in and see familiar faces. When we got to Neshoba many people were great about introducing themselves but church would end and we would go home. I really wanted to spend more time with people so I asked around if there was anything like what we had at our old church. Bill said there used to be a Supper Club (which was a little different in format) and that at some point we would have that again – that he would organize it but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Months later I asked him if there was anything I could do to facilitate making this happen. That was when we planned the first Circle Supper in December of 2008.
3) You do such a good job planning these so that the groups are varied. What's your system?
The system is still a work in progress but not rocket science. Obviously, I start off with the sign-up sheet. People sign up to bring different food items. You don’t want to have too many side dishes at one party so I try to divvy them up! Aside from that, mostly I just try to make sure the same people are not together all the time, that new people are spread out among the seasoned Neshobans, and that each party has a diverse age and gender group.
4) What's the most difficult part of your job? And also, what's the most rewarding part of your job?
I would have to say the most difficult part is figuring out the kid part of the equation. It seems not too many people sign up with kids, but when they do, I want to make sure they are at a kid friendly house, hopefully with other kids they can hang out with. That’s not always easy. The absolute best part of the job is hearing what a difference it is making for other people. Sometimes I worry a little about how a group will do and then I am thrilled to hear that it went very well. I love hearing about all of the interesting conversations people have; for example, this last time when a party had an age range of 18 to 71 and they talked about their first political memory. That is such great stuff!
5) Do you have any interesting and/or funny stories from Circle Suppers that you wish to share?
Interesting or funny… hmmm, that’s tough. The only thing I can think of is when we used a Circle Supper to disguise a big birthday party for a Neshoba member. He signed up for a Circle Supper and later his wife e-mailed me to ask if I could let him think he was going but then cancel at the last minute telling him his host was sick. “Instead” he went bowling with his kids and a friend and when he came home there were probably 40 of his closest friends there for his 50th birthday party. I loved being part of the sneakiness of it all!
I am finding myself to be at a bit of a fork in the road. I have been home with our girls for 12 years but am starting to feel a need for something more for myself. I guess that’s why I do as much at Neshoba as I do. I still want to be home when our girls are home are; you never know when they will talk and I don’t want to miss that one important conversation, but I’m hoping I’ll figure out something meaningful and creative to fill my time. I have a degree in Interior Design, although I wouldn’t choose that if I had it to do over again. I will confess though, that I LOVE to paint... rooms, that is. I have painted almost most every room in our house in solids colors, stripes and polka dots. I also love to work in the yard! Planting is great and I love the outcome, but weirdly enough, it’s weeding that I find therapeutic. I also love and miss camping! It’s a little too warm and buggy here for my taste so we don’t do it nearly as much as we did in WA state.