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  Coop Dinners Bring Us Together
It’s an early Saturday evening on the last day of January as six members and attenders make their way through the snow-covered landscape of Chester County, Pennsylvania to attend one of our Meeting’s cooperative dinners. Outside, the air may be frigid, but once inside the home of the hosting couple, the atmosphere is warm and inviting.

The cooperative dinners, generally held the last weekend of the first four months of the year, have become a vital part of the social life of Downingtown Meeting. Through them, members and attenders meet and learn about each other in a home setting, away from the Meeting House. Groups of eight persons–each individual or couple bringing a portion of the meal, thus the term "cooperative" dinner–gather at a host’s house for several hours of conversation and socializing.

For the eight persons at this January dinner, conversation ranged from what colleges sons and daughters were planning to attend to music, a favorite subject of one of the hosts, to the latest movies everyone had seen to books they had read and why they liked them. And that was before dinner as they sat and conversed over hors d’oeuvres and wine.

Once at the dinner table, conversation got a bit more lively, with continued discussion of books and movies. As active members of Meeting, the discussion also got around to the future of Meeting and the part everyone will play in it.

Generally speaking, an individual can expect to meet as many as 28 other people in one season of cooperative dinners. For long-time members and attenders, our cooperative dinners are a way to reconnect and learn new things about each other. For newer attenders, they’re a great way to get to know others in our Meeting community while sampling some excellent cooking. And participants don't have to be great cooks--some bring bread or salad.

To participate in all four dinners in a cooperative dinner season, you must volunteer to host one dinner. Individuals often team up to co-host a dinner at one or the other’s home, especially those who live in apartments or condominiums. But you can still attend the dinners by signing up for the substitute list. Sign up for the cooperative dinner season takes place in mid-December. Watch for announcements.

Click on each photo below to see a larger image.

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