When I walked into Sawyer, the seafood restaurant in Silver Lake, I didn’t know anything about the people I’d be dining with—except that we had at least one interest in common. We were all there because we wanted to defend DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) from the Trump administration.
Unlike many political events, the DACA dinner wasn’t a fundraiser. It was organized by SameSide, a new company that arranges “meaningful experiences” for people who want to make the world a better place. Cofounder Nicole àBeckett says, “The purpose of SameSide and all of our experiences is less about raising money, and more about engagement, which is a piece that we feel is really missing.”
SameSide created Dinners for DACA, a series of events at Los Angeles restaurants, as a way for people to take action in support of Dreamers. The event at Sawyer included a three-course meal for $55 per person. (Ticket prices include tax and tip.) Between courses, the host guided us through a series of tasks, including writing letters to our Congressional representatives and posting messages on social media encouraging others to do the same. The letters were preprinted with persuasive messages but included room for each guest to add a personal note. Yes, I could’ve researched DACA myself and have taken similar actions at home, but it felt more meaningful to do it as part of a group.
Nicole àBeckett and her brother, David Legacki, a former Navy SEAL, started SameSide because they wanted to bring people together to be more civically engaged—and they wanted to make it fun. They held their first event in late March, 2017, gathering ten friends to phone bank for a progressive candidate in DTLA, followed by a brewery tour of the Arts District. At the event, several people told àBeckett, “I wanted to find a way to get involved, but I didn’t know how.” SameSide may be especially appealing for new activists, because it simplifies the process of community involvement, and there’s no ongoing commitment.
The company beta-launched in August, 2017, and offerings have included a visit to Watts Towers and LocoL in support of arts education, and a dance workout in support of transgender troops. More Dinners for DACA are coming up, too. Says àBeckett, “We’re getting restaurants on board who are passionate about defending DACA because of what it means to their industry, their location, and their workers.”
They want to keep the dinners small, limiting each one to ten or twelve guests, so that everyone has a chance to interact. At the one I attended, I met àBeckett , as well as a woman who works with undocumented children, a criminal defense attorney whose parents were born in Colombia, and a DACA recipient who works for a local politician, among others. In addition to addressing the importance of DACA, our conversation topics ranged from what it will take to get sensible gun laws passed to how to protect domestic abuse victims who are reluctant to file charges. SameSide is an opportunity to have dinner with like-minded people while working for change. I loved it—and I loved Sawyer’s peanut-butter pie, too.
SameSide hosts their next Dinner for DACA on January 31, 2018, at 24/7 Restaurant at The Standard DTLA. Tickets are available online for $35.
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