Today was my first big event of the Spring 2012 semester in the library! We hosted a bowl making workshop to benefit our local Empty Bowls event.
For those of you who have not heard of Empty Bowls, it’s an international grassroots project to fight hunger — local groups work with the theme to benefit their local soup kitchen or food pantry. Members of the community make hand-crafted ceramic bowls and donate them to the event. Restaurants and chefs in the community donate soup and bread. Then, an annual event is held (ours is in February), where they serve soup in the hand-crafted bowls for a set minimum donation (here it’s $10), and you get to keep the bowl your soup is served in.
In my community, all of the proceeds go to benefit our local soup kitchen. Last year, they raised around $24,000 at the event — it’s really their most significant fundraising event of the year.
I’ve heard of Empty Bowls for the past couple of years, but for some reason never got involved. This year, I remembered to look it up early enough to actually be able to volunteer… Then I got to thinking, I’m actually in a position to contribute more than the couple of mediocre bowls I could make on my own! So I sought permission to host a bowl making workshop in a high traffic area of the library. Luckily, our Dean’s husband does a lot of work for the soup kitchen and Empty Bowls, so I didn’t have to push too hard to get the green light!
Volunteers from Empty Bowls brought about 100 lbs. of donated clay, along with tools, stamps, etc. to use in making and decorating the bowls. They also led the workshop, teaching those of us who were novices how to make a decent bowl. So, really, all I had to do was reserve the space, put down some plastic sheeting to protect the carpet, and get the word out for people to show up.
And show up they did! I got really lucky in that one of the organizers gave me the name of an art professor who had brought some students to a bowl making workshop last fall. He brought two classes of students! So that was probably about 40 students combined. Several faculty members showed up as well.
Oh, and another professor brought a class of photojournalism students over to take photos and ask questions, with the hopes of reporting on this in the local paper!
We had a great turn out for relatively little effort on my part. In fact, once I talked to the professor who offered to bring a couple of classes over, I went wimpy on the advertising. Next time around, I will definitely do a better job of getting the word out early and often to a much wider swath of the campus community! Since this was our first time, though, I was afraid of being too successful and not prepared to handle that many people! Next year, we’ll have a better idea of what to expect!
By the end of the 3 hour workshop, students and faculty members made a total of 67 bowls for Empty Bowls!