Food is a social nexus. People gather to eat, but this depends on having time and space. In the spirit of providing an accessible alternative, the Mason Project is a procedure for integrating the spirit of a communal meal amongst those who are busy, have fragmented schedules, or live alone. It does so by establishing a recipe for collaborative, distributive eating: Six jars of food, each containing a complete, nutritious meal, are swapped amongst a group of people each week.
The Mason Project’s methodology, a simple system created to live on its own and spread organically, hinges upon peer-to-peer interactions that develop trust, address a perpetual need, and allow participants to control cost, quality, and engagement. It also creates points of intimacy between participants: during the trade, when the meal is eaten during the week, and when stories of the meals are discussed at the next trade event.
Each participant enjoys autonomy while still engaging in a co-operative act, as the project provides a space for social exchange where error and risk are mitigated by clear organization and collaboration. The jars themselves are vessels for the network of food, and the community building that these actions foster.