Briefly explaining what Michael Hebb does is a nearly impossible task—but we’re going to try.
As for the basics, he’s lived in Seattle for about 8 years after leaving Portland. “Portland kicked me out—we broke up,” he told us simply. His time in Portland included the hosting of a series of invitation-only themed dinners, which led to the opening of three restaurants.
We caught up with him at his home, where he was cooking up a dinner for his latest meal series. With groups of no more than fifteen, Michael hosts a casual dinners to facilitate conversation about a predetermined topic.
“They’re knowledge jams,” he explained to us, “I curate the topic and who is coming.” The information collected and ideas generated from the evenings is captured on Learnist. “We collaboratively archive the conversation,” Michael explained.
If you haven’t dug through the site before, set aside at least a few hours in your afternoon. You can create an account and select to tag topics that you’d like to follow and learn about, or can simply type in keywords and fall down the rabbit hole.
Today on our page, for example, we have an article that features food-related events in New York. We also have a feature with photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. (Note: our tags include food, New York, art and California.)
Another project currently on his docket is one that stemmed from a teaching fellowship at the University of Washington. Titled “Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death,” Michael says it’s the “most important conversation we’re not having.”
He’s hoping to bring people around the dinner table to talk not just about the tragedy of our own lives, but also the knowledge we should have prior to passing and resources to give us control of the situation (even if, in the actual moment, we have no control).
“Technology has taken the place of the table in transmitting a story,” Michael explained to us, “the table used to have the role of facilitating conversation, capturing and transporting stories.” With each of these projects, he’s bringing people back to the table to experience something offline to facilitate the exchanging of ideas, then bringing those ideas online for all to access.
Michael is wearing the Pierce in Oakwood Brown
Photos by Collin Hughes