Courtney Dillard and Matt Webber don't know you, but they want to buy you breakfast. The Portland-based pair will be in town from Oct. 24 – 26 doing research for their upcoming book, Breakfast with Strangers: 50 Meals Across America. The project is exactly what the title implies — except that the couple is also on their honeymoon.
Dillard and Webber say their goal is to foster camaraderie between people who have never met. “It's been a really unfortunate thing that we are encouraged to fear one another more than engage with one another,” says Dillard, an assistant professor of rhetoric at Willamette University in Salem, Ore. “We've not only had breakfast, but we've stayed at the houses of strangers, relied on strangers when our car broke down. We have asked strangers for directions, sat at the bar with strangers, and 100 percent of the time, it has been positive.”
The couple has been driving around the country in a camper van called the USS Pancake since July 18 (they were married on July 14). So far, they've conducted 33 breakfast interviews with people they have never met, including a saxophone repair person, a rancher, a stay-at-home mom and the lieutenant governor of Montana. They fund the breakfasts from their successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $8,300 for the project.
“The American Dream looks very different for people these days,” says Webber, a community and political organizer. “But there's this sense of self-determination and living one's life to the fullest, whatever that is.”
They have yet to book any breakfast dates for their visit to Asheville, and they invite inquiries from interested individuals. In particular, they would like to to interview someone with a background in the military or nursing. To set up a breakfast date, email Dillard and Webber at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, see www.breakfastwithstrangers.com or find them on Facebook or on Twitter at @BWS50Meals.