Empty Bowls: Craftsman donate time, wares to help the hungry

02/27/07 -- LAURA MCCUTCHEON -- The Daily Journal On a recent Friday morning, Doug Browe paused from what he was doing, grabbed a hunk of clay, wedged it into balls and then sat down at a potter's wheel and threw four bowls.

Browe, a part-time ceramics teacher at Mendocino College, is one of dozens of other local
potters -- including his wife, Jan Hoyman-Browe -- donating their time and talent to the
Empty Bowls fund raiser, to be held locally on March 31 at Plowshares.

This annual event is part of a nationwide effort to increase awareness of hunger while
raising funds for the organizations which serve the homeless and the hungry.

"The whole point of the Empty Bowls project is artists donate their time and creativity to
make the bowls, other people donate their time and energy to cook the soup, and people
come and donate their finances, and for their entry fee, fill the bowl with soup and eat. The
most important aspect is, when finished, they are able to have a glimpse of what so many
people in the world see every night; an empty bowl," Browe said.

A selection of soups, breads, appetizers and desserts round out the meal, Plowshares
Executive Director, Mary Buckley said.

"Live music (by Toby Avery and Mel Wood Sr.) and an auction liven the atmosphere, and
diners get to experience eating at a soup kitchen in case they have ever wondered about
our operations," Buckley said. And, people get to take their bowls with them when they

Asked why he and his wife participate in the fund raiser, Browe said,

"On the whole, artists are very much in touch with their emotions and people in touch with
their emotions have empathy for folks who are in need . . . We really, really enjoy our
community and in a small rural community like ours we don't have large stockpiles of
corporate resources, federal funds, and state assistance, so we tend to need to take care
of our own."
Browe noted that not only are the instructors in the ceramics class making and donating
bowls, but so are many of the students.

Local ceramist Jodie Clark, Plowshares board member and volunteer cook for the
community dining room, is organizing the local fund-raiser -- and she, too, is making bowls.

Why does she do it?

"I get a lot of fun out of it. I cook with a group of friends; we thoroughly enjoy the cooking
and it's our social outing as well. It is sort of a special way of touching the community,"
Clark said, referring to volunteering at Plowshares in general.

As for the Empty Bowls event, why not?

"I am in the position I am in, I make bowls . . . A lot of ceramists are generous people
when it comes to donating to a cause," she said. Lucky thing, cause next year's Empty
Bowls fund-raiser might require twice as many bowls.

The current Plowshares dining room only seats 64 people, but by next year, a larger eating
area may be on the menu. "We are doing something about that," Buckley said, noting
funds raised at this year's event will directly benefit Plowshares building fund.

Last year's Empty Bowl's fund-raiser netted around $5,000, according to Clark, who said
she hopes next year's event will call for about 128 bowls. Clark was referring to the fact
that by next year's event, Plowshares new Community Dining Room should be built. The
new facility, to be located at 1346 So. State St., across from the Ukiah Airport, will seat
twice as many people, and allow Plowshares to serve evening meals for the first time ever.

Tickets for the Empty Bowls fund-raiser cost $40 and are available at Plowshares,
462-8582, or the Mendocino Book Company, 468-5940. Seating is limited so tickets will
not be sold at the door. People interested in volunteering at the event can also call

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