This July, after Courtney Dillard and Matt Webber walk down the aisle, they will hit the open road on a unique journey from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, taking a leap of faith with dozens of people they’ve never met. The leap? The new bride and groom will sit down to breakfast with strangers across America.
The Oregon couple wants to challenge the negative narratives of ‘stranger danger’ and how America is hopelessly divided.
Seeking strangers from bulletin boards, through word of mouth, social media, and pure chance, Matt and Courtney plan to select 50 of the breakfasts to highlight in a book, “Breakfast with Strangers: 50 Meals across America”.
“Living in Portland for the last decade has inspired us to invest in community and to foster it in novel ways,” says Courtney, a teacher in the Rhetoric & Media Studies department at Willamette University.
For the last few months the duo has been taking strangers in Portland, like Hanna in the above photo, out to breakfast as they prepare for their upcoming trip. They’ve sat down with a wide variety of Portlanders from Jennifer who takes care of thousands of plants in downtown corporate offices to Hannah who eavesdrops on the calls of prisoners in a county jail.
“Each person has their unique story and yet there are common themes we already see emerging,” noted Matt.
“We have all been told it is the most important meal of the day, but breakfast isn’t just important for the body, it’s also great for community,” said Matt, a community organizer whose favorite breakfast is corn griddle cakes at the Paradox Cafe in Portland, OR.
“We’ve found that sharing coffee and toast is a wonderful way to get to know a stranger better.”
Now that the word is getting out via their website and Kickstarter campaign, the couple has already received over 600 breakfast request emails sent from big cities, like Los Angeles, and small towns like Enterprise, Alabama. The two also recently tweeted Portland Mayor Sam Adams to ask him to breakfast and are waiting to hear back from his office.
Strangers seem to like the couple’s idea and are even willing to fund it. The Kickstarter campaign reached its goal this week, successfully funding their adventure to the tune of more than $8,000. (Visit their website at BreakfastWithStrangers.com)