‘Creating a better world’: Local strangers meet for a seaside dinner party in La Jolla
San Diego resident’s guest list includes people from various walks of life ‘who are just doing inspiring or cool things.’
About 20 local strangers met at La Jolla’s Cuvier Park to converse, commune and connect Feb. 5, leaving with new relationships and ideas.
The event was organized by San Diego resident Chris Duncan, owner of Creator Camp, a company that brings together online content creators and influencers to foster community.
The guest list for the Sunday sunset dinner, set up by luxury picnic company Suite & Sea and catered by La Jolla restaurant Spiro’s Mediterranean Cuisine, included people from a range of careers, such as entrepreneur, event planner, gallery owner and architect.
Guests, most of whom were unknown to one another before the evening, chatted and exchanged ideas and contact information around a long table that included cards with conversation starters to read aloud.
Duncan said this was his first such event in La Jolla. He had “wanted to host something small here in San Diego with thought leaders, entrepreneurs, founders [and] people of all ages coming from all walks of life,” he said.
“[I] wanted to do something that’s for the community [in a] really interesting and fun way.”
Duncan’s event was inspired by Summit Series, a large organization he said is well-known among millennials for presenting dinner events for entrepreneurs in various cities.
“We wanted to do something similar,” he said, especially in light of the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic the past few years.
Duncan said he invited people who are “entrepreneurs, founders, artists, creatives, musicians, people who are just doing inspiring or cool things within San Diego.”
Orlando Zuniga, a psychotherapist who lives in La Jolla’s Windansea neighborhood, said he attended the dinner party to meet more people and network, having recently returned to San Diego after a few years away.
“I’m wanting to meet people where I’m at now,” Zuniga said. He hadn’t attended an event like this before, he added.
Bea Doheny, who works for a marketing agency, said Duncan walked in one day and asked if she liked dinner parties.
“It’s a really unique idea,” she said.
San Diego State University student and YouTube content creator Serafina Gargiulo said she was invited by a mutual friend and was interested to hear others’ ideas and share perspectives on topics including travel and current books.
La Jolla resident Pablo Fernandez — founder of Secret Table, a company that organizes similar events — said “convening intentionally, bringing people together” hyper-locally, is very powerful.
“It creates a sense of safety and connection in your community,” he said. “It’s such a disarming experience to get to know your neighbors.”
“There’s so many benefits to in-person gatherings, especially when they’re intentionally done,” Fernandez added.
He said he doesn’t feel that his and Duncan’s companies are in competition. “When we host gatherings or produce events, we intentionally invite others to do the same because we feel … that a more connected world and community is better for everyone. It’s creating a better world.”
Duncan said he plans to hold more events like this in La Jolla. “It was fantastic and I learned a lot,” he said.
Content creator Auzi Weber attended the dinner and during a toast said there is much value in eating a meal with strangers. “If you want to be successful, you ought to surround yourself with people you want to be like,” he said. ◆
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