Downtown Troy

Dinner party: a must-have RPI experience

To start the celebration of Earth week, Design for America held a dinner party in partnership with the Student Sustainability Task Force on Saturday. This event was open to all community members, and yielded about 50 attendees, ranging from RPI students to families with small children.

This event originated as a project by Julianna Chiaramonte ’20, Korryn Resetar ’19, Lydia Krauss ’19, Raffie Lee ’20,  graduate student Jacob Shavel, and Alvin Yu ’20 in Product Design and Innovation Studio V. The group, which aptly dubbed itself “Dinner Party,” remained anonymous and postered around campus to advertise a Google form to sign up for the event. Before the event on Saturday, dinner parties were held in group members’ houses or apartments and averaged around 20 attendees.

When the projects for the class ended, Design for America—a club on campus that also hosts events like Drop or Swap—decided to take it on. The most recent event was held in a repurposed floor of an apartment building that used to be a school in Downtown Troy. Members of DFA spent the two weeks before the event painting a mural on the wall and cleaning the space to make it usable. It featured two long tables to seat guests, along with separate cheese board and buffet-style tables on either side of the room.

The dinner menu consisted of roasted vegetable dishes, sesame and soy sauce tofu, salads, rice, salmon, and steak. There were a few cakes and cut up honeydew and cantaloupe for dessert. Most of the food was prepared by members of DFA in the apartment below the venue and was paid for through the $12 cost of attendance. Everything besides the platters of vegetables and the steak were passed around from guest to guest, similarly to a dinner you would have at home with family.

As first time attendees, this event was surprisingly refreshing. The atmosphere of the dinner was casual, and featured lively conversation that filled the room. We were encouraged to mingle with those around us from the moment we entered the venue. As the sun set, the decorative string lights made the room feel cozy.

This specific dinner party also included more than just Rensselaer students. There were people of all ages from the local community, at least one professor that we recognized, and a few families with young children. One of us even met someone that we had only seen around a few times in Downtown Troy, but never had the chance to talk to.

After attending this dinner party, we would both love to go again next year. Perhaps, this time, we could get involved and actually help with organizing. An event of this style is rare on this campus, and we would love to see more of its kind. If you can’t make it to the next one, at least consider hosting some sort of potluck or dinner with friends. It can help to step away from daily responsibilities and just focus on moments with people around you; this dinner party was a great place for that.

If you think this may interest you, be on the lookout for the event announcements next semester and sign up before spots fill up. Additionally, if you would like to help, consider joining Design for America.