The advantage to living in a city Orlando’s size (as opposed to New York, Los Angeles or the like) is that it’s wide open for new initiatives. Think of an idea and it can usually be accomplished, so long as you’re willing to put in the work: See the Timucua White House, Snap Orlando, the Homegrown local food cooperative and any number of other cultural programs about town.
So it makes sense that Urban ReThink should host a monthly discussion that “considers the possibilities of an urban environment.” A pair of locals and at least one Urban ReThink board member are joined by a cultural representative from another city; each gives a brief “pecha kucha-type” talk on his or her organization. (Twenty slides are shown for no more than 20 seconds each; this structure tends to cut down on the “read the bullet points that are typed on the slide” style of lecturing and keeps things lively.)
This month’s locals are the multifarious and apparently tireless Mark Baratelli of TheDaily City.com (a multiple Orlando Weekly Best of Orlando award winner) and John Rife, a founding member of Florida Creatives (a partner of this monthly event) and creator of the Winter Park Harvest Festival. Baratelli’s next big venture is the second annual Orlando Improv Festival, Sept. 25-27, while Rife, whose Winter Park Harvest Festival debuted last year, looks forward to the second iteration of the healthy-living fair Nov. 19-20.
Joining them for Tuesday’s discussion via Skype is Dawn Weleski of Pittsburgh’s Conflict Kitchen, “a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries that the United States is in conflict with.” Weleski was in the area this spring as an ACA resident artist (see “Architects on the beach,” June 2) and struck up a friendship with Pat Greene, programming director of Urban ReThink. Weleski will discuss the way this project uses food to increase understanding of nations usually seen only on the news. Could a delicious Venezuelan arepa mitigate the average man-on-the-street’s response to Hugo Chavez’s provocative soundbites? Or a spicy Iranian kubideh on homemade barbari bread – how far can a $5 sandwich go toward humanizing that faceless “enemy”? Would this kind of community engagement-based public art work in the City Beautiful?
Following the discussion will be Wine 101 with David Padgitt of PRP Wine – a chance to mull over what you’ve learned with a glass of red. (ReThinking the City, 6:25-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, at Urban ReThink, 625 E. Central Blvd., 407-704-6895; urbanrethink.com)