What does an empty bowl mean to you? What would it symbolize?
For Lynn Koning, a local potter, an empty bowl means an individual is going hungry, and she wants to do something about that. And she has, by teaming with the Wiregrass Area United Way Food Bank and the Cultural Arts Center to present the inaugural “Empty Bowls for Dothan” project. This fundraising event will be held Saturday, Feb. 9, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., in the Banquet Room at the Cultural Arts Center, 909 S. St. Andrews St. in Dothan.
The concept is not original with Koning; as a member of the pottery-making community, she had heard of the effort in other places. It was an idea she wanted to bring it to the Wiregrass. She notes, at last, it will come to fruition.
“A husband and wife team started this event,” Koning said as she explained the project’s evolution from its conception in North Carolina. “It has spread around the world. I had participated in two of them before, and I wanted to do it here.
“I’m the spearhead behind this. I’ve wanted to do it for years, but there are not that many potters in this area. But, we figured out we could hand-make the bowls instead of throwing them on the wheel.”
With the hurdle of how to produce enough bowls for the event out of the way, Koning put her plan in motion.
“I called Julie (Gonzalez) at the Food Bank,” Koning said. “She’s wanted to do it. I then asked Ann (Cotton) if we could hold it here at the Cultural Arts Center.”
The two, obviously, said yes to the idea.
“Give all the credit to Lynn,” said Gonzalez, Food Bank Development coordinator. “She made it come to fruition. She wanted to do something to help the Food Bank. We’re looking for a great, successful event. I know they have had a lot of fun doing the work (of making the bowls).”
“We’re hoping to grow this event,” added Cotton, executive director of the CAC. “In addition, we’re hoping this event will help grow the pottery program here. We want to provide a site for Lynn to teach her classes.”
With the two entities on board, next came the actual creation of the bowls for the project. Two hundred of them have been made and are ready to be filled with nutritious soup.
“Making the bowls became a community activity,” said Koning, who teaches pottery classes at the Cultural Arts Center. “We had youth groups, church groups and groups of all sizes involved in this project. We hope to have 200 people here for the event, because we have 200 bowls ready to be filled (with soup) and bought. The Empty Bowls project is always for hunger relief.”
The 200 bowls, made primarily by youth groups, will be on display in the Banquet Room. Participants are asked to make a $10 donation, which will be used to help feed the hungry people in the community. With that donation, they can pick a bowl that they will keep when the event is over. While at the event, the bowls will be filled with soup. Area restaurants, including The Basketcase, The Blue Plate and Atlanta Bread Company, will provide the soup.
“Juliann Black, the Bread Lady, will donate the bread to go with the soup,” Koning said. “Holly Groover’s mother, June, will donate brownies. Rosalind Horton will donate honey bears to squeeze on the bread. The drink will be water.
“It’s a simple meal, and the participants will keep their bowls to use at home. Hopefully, when they use them, they will remember the hungry in our area.”
In addition to the “Empty Bowls for Dothan” project, the event will also feature a display of wares created by area artisans. Ten percent of their sales that day will go to the Cultural Arts Center.
“The funds raised from the artisans’ sales will go toward purchasing a used kiln and pottery wheel for the center,” Cotton said. “We’re in need of at least $700 to make that happen.”
Cotton says the community’s support of this event is important.
“It will be a fun time for the community to come and eat and see the artists,” Cotton said. “At the same time, they will be helping the Food Bank and the pottery program at the Cultural Arts Center.”
“For someone looking for a handmade bowl to keep and a meal, you can’t beat the price,” Koning said of the $10 donation.
For more information about the project, visit www.facebook.com/EmptyBowlsDothan, or call Julie Gonzalez at 794-9775, or Ann Cotton at 699-2787.