Food and community - a little social experiment

Not that it was planned as one, but during SPA2009 I came into possession (how is not important…) of a big tub of sweets. These were just ordinary goodies, not fancy Belgian chocolates, the sort of thing you can buy at any newsagent here. I’ve a sweet tooth, but not that sweet, so I opened the tub and put it on a table in the common area at the conference.

An hour later I strolled by, and noticed that the tub was half empty. Another hour, and the tub was still half-empty, but only because someone else had bought some different sweets, and added them to the tub. And an hour after that, a box of cookies had joined the tub of sweets.

I find this interesting, and a great indicator of the sort of community the conference engenders. The sweets acted as an attractor, and (though I didn’t see it) I can imagine people passing the bowl, looking, commenting to someone else standing around, taking a candy or two, and feeling quietly better about the day. Not that they needed lifting, but my spirits were definitely higher when I saw the way others had added to the stock.

Particularly if it’s not a habit with you or your team, try bringing in a couple of bars of chocolate or a tub of cookies. Don’t make a big deal of it, just put them down somewhere people can see them and take one. Then see what happens.

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