The Breaking Bread Village starts a conversation in Bay City

In a world where people seem at odds over so many things, a local non-profit is inviting everyone to take a seat at the table and join the conversation.

Music from Pesky Kid hyped participants up as they arrived for the conversation about 'Societal Expectations' on Tues., Jan. 9. The goal of the gatherings is to create spaces for organic conversations. The atmosphere inside the Pere Marquette Depot for the first live show in Bay County met that expectation.Erin Patrice, the founder of The Breaking Bread Village, has been hosting shows in Midland over the past year. In 2024, the Bay Area Community Foundation is bringing the Breaking Bread Village program to Bay County.

The goal of the program is that the conversations continue long after the live shows end.From left, Scott Ellis, Phil Eich, and Trashan Rena were among the panelists at the Tues., Jan. 9 live show. The table was set to resemble a fine meal served to guests.Each show features an intentionally diverse panel and a live audience. The goal is to spark respectful conversations amongst people of diverse views.

Food isn't served at the live shows, but they rely on the concept of a meal to create an ambience.Scott Ellis, Executive Director of Great Lakes Bay Pride, was one of the panelists for the Tues., Jan. 9 live show.The Breaking Bread Village started out of a need to “create spaces for people to have organic conversation,” Patrice says.

For the Tues., Jan. 9 live show, a mime showed the band Pesky Kid for the pre-show.Before the live show, Breaking Bread Founder Erin Patrice mingles with the audience.That’s especially important after 2020 when everyone was locked down during the pandemic and the world felt chaotic.

The goal of the live shows is to spark thoughtful conversations.Chilly weather didn't keep people away from the show, which filled the Pere Marquette Depot in Downtown Bay City.“I just saw people being very combative in nature and in dialogue and it was just kind of counterproductive,” Patrice says. “Nobody was really talking with each other. It was more of at each other.”

Marlana Cork and Benjamin Brian served on the first panel for the Tues., Jan. 9 live show.The Breaking Bread Village has been hosting shows in Midland. This year, the Bay Area Community Foundation is bringing the Breaking Bread Village program to Bay County.She decided instead of complaining about how things were, she needed to do something to get people talking and listening again.

The mission of Breaking Bread Village is to create safe spaces where people come together to share and be heard without the judgment of the outside world.The Breaking Bread Village shows break down the walls between people.Throughout 2023, Patrice has hosted the panel talks in Midland in partnership with the Midland Area Cultural Awareness Coalition. (Learn more about the program in this Feb. 16, 2023 article in Catalyst Midland. Catalyst Midland is a sister publication to Route Bay City.)

Erin Patrice is the founder of Breaking Bread Village.Upcoming shows will focus on bias, empathy, honesty, religion, and other topics that aren't always easy to discuss.The shows in this area will be held in Room 1904 of the Pere Marquette Depot, 1000 Adams St. Each show begins with a 6 p.m. pre-show. The show itself runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. 

More shows are scheduled in Bay County throughout 2024. The next one is Tues., March 5.Scott Ellis makes a point while fellow panelist Phil Eich listens.The upcoming shows and topics are:
  • Tues., March 5 – Bias-Judgment
  • Tues., May 14 - Empathy-Tolerance
  • Tues., Aug. 6 – Honesty-Transparency
  • Tues., Oct. 8 – Morality-Ideology-Religion
  • Tues., Jan. 7 – The Greater Good-The Big Picture
City Commissioner Chris Girard was one of the participants for the Tues., Jan. 9 live show.The events are free, but registration is encouraged. To register, visit The Breaking Bread Village website.
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