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Eric Maddox breaks bread – and barriers – one virtual dinner at a time

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"It's harder to ignore people, vilify people, or harm people that you've broken bread with," Maddox says over a shared bowl of brown rice and vegetables at the Flying Star Cafe in Santa Fe.

So far, those gathering around virtual dinner tables have included residents of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; Kampala, Uganda; and Karachi, Pakistan. Social advocates, educators, filmmakers, students, and others have participated.

"It's important to have a diverse range of views around the table," Maddox says.

He seeks out participants in countries that have strained relations with the US. "We're probably not going to have a dinner with Switzerland anytime soon," he jokes.

Openness and mutual respect are essential to the success of the conversation.

"You have to be aware of how your own personal narrative can affect your conversation with one another," Maddox says.

Maddox's desire to help heal misunderstandings that lead to conflict between countries, spurred by his strong sense of justice and a belief in the power of food to build community, led him to create the Virtual Dinner Guest Project last spring.

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