In Seoul, most sharing spaces consist sharing kitchens. These sharing kitchen spaces often collaborate with local businesses, organizations and other constituencies to connect strangers, and more broadly, communities, together. Sharing kitchens might be the answer to the isolation we feel from the fast paced lives we lead now. It gives us the space and utilities needed to connect with others, to listen, and to learn. In doing so, we, who constitute a community, might find ourselves changing and challenging community problems and feeling more connected at home. Afterall, nothing is more welcoming or exciting than sharing a meal with people you care or will come to care about.
photo credit: Youth Azit Gangdong Pod
1. Youth Azit Gangdong Pod – Sharing Kitchen (http://gdpodazit.net/)
In the youth activism space ‘Youth Azit Gangdong Pod’ located in Gangdong-gu, along with a space to share stories, local youth are provided with education and job opportunities. Among the opportunities, they host sharing food activities. These sharing food activities are composed of Sharing Kitchen and Tuesday Tables Projects.
For Sharing Kitchen, Gangdong Pod and local business “Youth Azit Gangdong Pod” collaborate to promote ‘Sharing Kitchens’. With Sharing Kitchens, single person housholds come together in groups of three to five, collect foods at the neighborhood. The process is an excellent opportunity to greet and meet new neighborhood friends.
On the otheer hand, ‘Tuesday Table’ started when the members believed they should grab a meal with each other at least once a week. They started with 50 people, but now there’s constantly over 150 people during each meet, and the numbers are steadily rising. The program was funded until late August, but is planned to be will be renewed this year under Gangdong Pod’s brand.
2. Dongjak Gu – Blank – Youth Platform (http://blankin.net/)
In 2012 ‘Blank’ won the “Building a Harmonious Village” contest hosted by Seoul. The funds from the contest propelled the formation of the youth platform. Since then, at the youth platform several residents held countless meets and greets. ‘Cooking Laboratory” is an initiative for youth who live alone to share ways to cook or use food. For example, they taught ways different types of anchovies can be used in basic cooking or share vegetables like cabbages, which are difficult for a single person to finish. They also made a space (Youth Camp) for Sharing Kitchen(Youth Platform) to use. Sharing Kitchens and the laughters of youth changed the neighborhood. Consequently, the idea of a youth platform where there is “a kitchen where people can come together and share” came to fruition. The youth platform achieved even more clarity as it was chosen to be Seoul’s ‘Resident Initiated Business’. The youth platform marked its official start in October 2013, is an office for the social venture Blank by day, and a ‘community space’ for neighbors by night.
For the two months following it’s open, there were ‘meal meetings’ in the sharing kitchen but the results were unsatisfactory. They needed contents that was even more easily accessible to the community. The youth platform invited the community in family units to come and cook and share meals. There were programs where residents would take turns preparing meals. Additionally, they held ‘Emty Wall Sharing” Projects, where every month a author or artist was invited to exhibit their work on the walls, and the space was also used to support various hobbies, small meetings, performances and lectures.
The year went by and the youth platform became a normal part of the neighborhood life. The housewives who were initiallly shy now confidently stride into the sharing kitchen. They oepn the refrigerator and cook a meal, or bring foods from the convenience store to eat because they ‘don’t want to eat alone’. Local youth and reisdents have lunch meets in the sharing kitchen too.
3. Zero Gravity Zone and G Valley (http://youthzone.kr/)
The Zero Gravity Zone G Valley is a sharing space for young employees. They support community activities, various research, and joint projects, supporting the dreams of the youth. Zero Gravity Zone’s Daebangdong is a community space for diverse youth activities. It is close to Nolyangjin station, which is also close to after school academies and Go Shi Wons (single rooms for college students preparing for exams). The location is ideal to try to find innovative solutions to the problems youth face today.
In ‘Zero Gravity Zone’, people are welcome to cook and share their foods in the sharing kitchen. The Zero Gravity Zone sharing kitchens are located in Dongjak-gu and Gumcheon-gu.
For people who feel lonely or self conscious when eating alone, this is the solution as it facilitates the warmth and laughter of eating with others in a natural manner.
4. Eunpyeong-gu – Nokbundong Village Kitchen / Dongjak-gu (planned)
‘Exciting Village Kitchen’ is a business that marked its start last year. Since then it has been promoted by the local municipality. It has been chosen as a Nokbundong Reisdent Particpation Business this year and connect with residents through foods. Village Kitchen is a variation of Sharing kitchen, but in this kitchen neighborhood residents freely come by to make or share their foods with each other.
They state “We were inspired by the Village Kitchen to coordinate the sharing of foods and connecting the elderly and the youth living alone. We hope that this relationship driven youth table program is expanded.”
5. Food Sharer
There lies a “our village refrigerator” In the entrance of Seongbuk-gu Wolgok 1-dong Community Welfare Center. The foods are labeled and dated on a sticker, and those in need take the foods as needed. As we load the foods into the truck, the president of the Wolgok Market Committee Um Ho Gil is active as a Everyone’s refirgerator Food Sharer. Everyone’s refrigerator is an sharing project for neighbors to share unused foods facilitated by the Wolgok Market Committee, Hannam Social Welfare Center, and the Gwangsan-gu community service center.
A sharing project that has entered its trial period from May 13th, 2015, each week ‘Everyone’s Refrigerator’ recieves foods from Food Sharer (A store that participates in food distribution in the neighborhood) and a Food Messenger (volunteer) delivers foods to places with these refrigerators. From there on, any resident freely takes the foods they need.
The goal of ‘Everyone’s Refrigerator’ is to remove the refirgerator that was in private property to public property. From thereon, the refirgerator is filled with food to meet the needs of the poor and promotes awareness and a sense of community in the neighborhood. Presently, the Wol Gok Market Committee share the foods but for the sustainability of the program we encourage residents to bring leftover food sources such as 1 onion, or half a cabbage and share those in the refirgerator.
We hope that this small refrigerator that enables food sharing connect neighbors with each other.
6. Social Dining – Dooridobap (http://bit.ly/28RrAxc)
There are ways to have a social dining experience using mobile applications. Recently Seoul National University students developed Dooridobap. It connnects students who are near the school cafeteria or restaurants and helps students to make meal plans with each other. If a lunch or dinner place is requested, it matches the person with different people also looking for lunch and dinner in the area. It heightens the fun of getting to know a stranger and places an emphasis on forming relationships.