March 26, 2013; Source: Boston.com

The real beauty of old ideas is that they never really die. They just weave themselves through history in odd ways like a bright thread in tweed. In this case, a student at Tufts University, Maximus Thaler, is using Kickstarter to raise $1,500 to capitalize a 24-hour café that will serve free food and other useful stuff like poetry, crafts, workshops, and lectures. The food will come from dumpster diving. The business plan involves asking those who show up to support the place. With 21 days remaining, he has raised more than half of the $1,500 goal so far.

The Gleaners’ Kitchen is described as a “public space where all forms of value can be exchanged freely,” and its website goes on to describe this vision in more detail:

“We imagine a cafe, decorated with dumpstered flowers and cheap art, where people hungry for a different world can come and exchange ideas. There will always be coffee and tea and warm lentil soup. Meals will be served every day at 6:00 pm, with special events on the weekends. We imagine concerts, poetry readings, academic lectures and craftivist workshops, all facilitated by the preposterous amounts of free food our society has somehow forgotten. Art will be everywhere. It will be shared as freely as the food.”

NPQ thinks that this is an interesting model, though not a new one, in that the revenue-producing assets are foraged. It reminds us of some of the arts-based meeting spaces popularized in some urban areas in the 1930s and ‘40s. And it certainly is of its time, as more and more innovative food-based projects are sprouting up. We are interested in your thoughts. –Ruth McCambridge