“Sexy Salads: Delicious, Yummy, Healthy, Fresh, Greens, Toppings, Mondays!”
As my fellow Hubbers Adrienne Lane and Christina Inge found one-word terms to describe this favorite monthly event at the Impact Hub Boston, I was curious as to what made it such a hit event month after month. The third Monday of each month, Boston Hubbers come together to share a meal together and bond. Impact Hub Boston Lead Host Katie Shultz described this tasty monthly ritual as a ‘Metaphor Meal’ where Impact Hub provides the basics of the salad such as the greens and dressings while the participating members bring in the toppings and side dishes, changing the flavor of the meal each time, depending on who attends and what they are willing to contribute.
According to Katie, when the Sexy Salad idea was pitched, Impact Hub Boston already had the Wednesday Member Lunches, so it was decided that an evening event would allow overlap between Community Members and Resident Members over a meal to make one-on-one contacts. The Sexy Salads go one step further in answering the question, “How do we connect our members to other Impact Hubbers?” Katie continues, the answer was through “stories about food or local food at other Impact Hubs that we can seek inspiration from. In a manner of speaking, the Sexy Salads provide a proxy to have these connections without visiting other locations.”
The Italian-themed Sexy Salad this month – featuring sun-dried tomatoes, fennel, basil, black olives, pine nuts, artichokes and pecorino, parmesan, mozzarella balls, fresh Italian bread, and artisanal olive oil to name a few of the toppings – also brought a few novelties. For the first time ever, there was alcohol – bottles of Italian red and white wines. In addition, it was one of the few times there were tasty dessert treats, such as poached pears and mascarpone whipped cream, pizzelles, biscotti, and goat cheese caramel-dripped green apples. What made the meal even more memorable was that it started with a Thanksgiving Blessing followed by a Moment of Gratitude, a tradition that has been in practice at other Impact Hubs. A few of our members who had been to the Oakland IH saw the blessing in practice during their visits and made the recommendation to the team for its addition. Events team member Bozhanka Vitanova reached out to the Oakland team for the link to the Iroquois Thanksgiving Address and asked various members at Impact Hub Boston to do the readings.
Katie provided a brief explanation about the Thanksgiving Address of the Haudenosaunee Indian tribe and its purpose of bringing together people and offering thanks for the various gifts, which included People, the Earth Mother, Waters, and Food Plants. Each section of the reading was prefaced with “Bringing hearts and minds together” and at the end of each section, all members recited together “Now our hearts and minds are together.” Brian Madrigal, a Community member, was touched by the poetic readings as he found them to be both profound and deeply spiritual. The team is considering installing the theme of saying a blessing from different traditions at the future Sexy Salads, though the event itself will be kept relatively unstructured.
Myron Lam, the Lead for Sexy Salad on the Hub’s Events Team narrated the steps to setting up the event: “First we select a theme, then create a marketing flyer, and then post it on GroupBuzz. Right now, we are doing a series based on different Impact Hub locations.” Linh Tran, who is part of the Community Animator team as well as a Monday Night Community Host, said the evening of Sexy Salad is fun. The salad greens and other essential ingredients need to be prepared by 5pm. “While it is a busy evening, it is rewarding to see people having conversations. I am very inspired by how creative people are.” Myron agreed that he is inspired by how people take the theme-inspired food creations to another level each time.
Soon after she joined, Christine Juaregui, who has been with Impact Hub Boston since mid-2015, helped plan the first Sexy Salad event. At that event, the diners brought in an item that began with the first letter of their first name. One of the most memorable Sexy Salads for Christine was the celebrity-inspired one, to which she brought Eggs-Benedict-Cumberbatch. Her recommendation for a future event would be an all-chocolate sexy salad. What about it, Events Team?
Melissa Mills, an active community member, likes that the event allows her to feel part of the larger community and build new relationships in a family-like setting. “I meet one new person every time I come to the event,” she added. Leslie Coles, a newer resident member at the Hub, agreed wholeheartedly that the Sexy Salad is “a genuine community-building tool. It takes something ordinary and makes it fun and exciting.”
Remembering a Sexy Salad event at the launch space on Main Street in Cambridge that had towards 60 people, Geoff Mamlet, who is the President of Impact Hub Boston, theorizes that space shapes the event. At the current space, 25-30 people can be seated crowded together. “It’s my primary time to meet Community Members and talk with them. So, I really value that. I also really enjoy seeing what people bring. It is a different side of each person than in their professional personality.”
The event was also marked the official introduction to the Hub’s new Co-Lead Host, Alisha Harrington, who joins us after a hiatus from her former career as a public defender. Alisha commented that she enjoyed the event tremendously and that she was particularly amazed at how quickly it led to community-building. Alisha, who has set the goal of getting to know at least three members each week, said, “Everyone seemed happy to be here to share their specialty items. This is fantastic. I was engaged in a deep conversation with Umberto [Silva] about family.”