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Breaking Bread and Barriers

The Wallace Dialogue Dinners Serve Up Fresh Foods and Shared Ideas

Story by Terri Queck-Matzie

Good food. Good company. Good conversation. Many a cure for the problems of an ailing world has been discovered in such a setting.

The Wallace Centers of Iowa (WCI) is taking the concept to a new level with a series of Dialogue Dinners and Civility Luncheons that utilize farm-fresh food and facilitated conversation to bring people from all walks of life together to tackle issues of the day.

“It’s really about listening,” says Diane Weiland, CEO and program developer of WCI. “Every conversation can plant a seed.”

WCI’s mission is “Building Community by Engaging Citizens in Meaningful Conversation and Active Learning,” and its programming is based on the ideals of the three generations of Wallaces to call Iowa home.

The organization operates from two sites. One is the Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center near Orient.

It's an expanse of 40 acres of prairie, gardens, orchards, and meeting facilities that mark the birthplace of the 33rd vice president of the United States and founder of Pioneer Hi-Bred.

The second location is the Wallace House in Des Moines’ Sherman Hill neighborhood, home to his grandfather, Henry Wallace, agricultural activist and founder of Wallaces Farmer.

Fine linens adorn the tables at the Wallace House. The home is restored to the days of Henry Wallace; vintage furnishings and archival photos line the walls.

Round tables seating five or six guests are arranged through the living room and parlor. Participants in the Spring 2012 Dialogue Dinner drift in, mingle, and hesitantly find a seat with the newly acquainted.

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