In this issue, we’re talking about fine dining. We have a tremendous food and drink scene and I’m always proud to showcase it to the community. This can (and should) be an uncomfortable topic when there is great disparity in our world and community between what people are and are not able to afford. That said, I’m not one who throws out the baby with the bathwater. I don’t think that things should be dismantled when not everyone can attain them; instead, conditions should be changed so people have the option to access them.
Assistance can be as broad as strengthening and maintaining anti-discrimination workplace laws. And campaigning for wage equity so that same-sex households in which both wage earners might be under the glass ceiling can earn more for their work. And working so that health care for broken bones or surgeries or hormone therapy doesn’t lambast household budgets to pieces. There are no finer things to opt-in for when survival is on the line.
Other assistance comes by way of changing how things are accessed. Some of the “finer things” are free, like Mia, the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Some of the theaters have “pay what you can” nights or, as with the Mixed Blood Theatre, there is the Radical Hospitality program which provides no-cost access to all mainstage productions for any audience member. People can go to the Minnesota Children’s Museum on a free Passport to Play from Saint Paul Public Libraries and Dakota County Libraries. When I was jobless, I splurged at nicer restaurants by ordering from the bar menu or going strictly during happy hour. Prix fixe menus are superb ways to taste more for less.
So, as we often do in our issues, this one isn’t just about Fine Wine & Dine; we also talk about various programs that help with gaps in our community, both food-related as well as elsewhere within the hierarchy of needs. Please be sure to look into the programs further. We talk about the GLBT Host Home Program of Avenues for Homeless Youth as part of the excerpt from Ryan Berg’s book No House to Call My Home. In the Rainbow Resources, we give a hotline for the The Bridge for Youth, which provides services for homeless youth in Minnesota. In the “Closer to Fine” piece, I mention La Belle Vie’s final meal being auctioned off in a fundraiser for Share Our Strength which fights childhood hunger.
Tonight [written October 23] I’ll be going with one of our food writers, Joy Summers, to support one of our other food writers, Bradley Traynor, who is participating in myTalk 107.1’s Project Down & Dirty – The Restaurant at The Freehouse in Minneapolis. Bradley and his on-air radio partner, Colleen Lindstrom, with their colleagues, will “design menus, serve food, host the evening, and work their butts off” for one night to raise money for hunger relief. Please be sure to check out the hunger relief organizations that are participating in Project Down & Dirty – The Restaurant: Second Harvest Heartland, a national food bank that sources and delivers meals to food shelves, pantries, and other agency partner programs; People Serving People, the largest family-focused homeless shelter in Minnesota; Open Arms, an organization that provides meals for people with life-threatening and chronic illness; and The Sheridan Story, a weekend food program which works to distribute sacks of food to food-insecure families to bridge the weekends between meals at school.
We can all be closer to fine, in so many ways. Let’s work on it. Together.