Plans full speed ahead for 2011 Empty Bowls

Karen Brownlee, chairperson of Long Beach Empty Bowls, listens to questions about the project at last weekÕs Peninsula Clay Artists meeting. School children and local artists have traditionally made handcrafted bowls for this event, but this year, Brownlee hopes to also enlist the help of groups in the community. She will come and instruct people on how to make various types of bowls. Local chefs and bakers are being recruited to supply soup and bread. Long Beach Empty Bowls is scheduled from noon to 2 p.m., on March 12 at the Peninsula Church Center in Seaview. Ocean Beach Presbyterian ChurchÕs WomenÕs Association are providing sponsorship. All proceeds stay on the Peninsula and will be used to feed the hungry, through FISH, His Supper Table and Community Kitchen.

LONG BEACH — Karen Brownlee, chairperson of Long Beach Empty Bowls, has a question for community members of all ages. Can you help? Brownlee is circulating paperwork throughout the Peninsula in hopes that volunteers will come forward  to make this year’s empty bowls project a resounding success. And even though the 2010 project was wildly productive raising more than $4,000 to help feed the Peninsula’s hungry, she strives to make this year’s event an even bigger draw. “There are plenty of needs here on the Peninsula,” Brownlee stressed.

Scheduled for March 12 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Peninsula Church Center in Seaview, under the watchful sponsorship of the Ocean Beach Presbyterian Church’s Women’s Association, the event has a relatively uncomplicated system. Handmade bowls teamed with donated soup and bread are sold for $10 each. This year’s proceeds will go to FISH, His Supper Table and Community Kitchen. Brownlee stresses that all the money raised in this event stays on the Peninsula.

Where do all those bowls come from? Brownlee will soon pack up clay and tools and head for Long Beach Elementary School where she will instruct students on how to hand make creations for the cause, using methods such as slab construction, coil or pinch pot forms. Clay artist Sue Raymond (new president of Peninsula Arts Association) will work with students at Ocean Park Elementary. 

Brownlee recalled, “When we went last year, we had every single student in both of those schools make a bowl, so we had close to 400.” High school students also made and donated bowls last year.

And area artists contributed as they will again for this March’s event. Addressing members of Peninsula Clay Artists at a recent meeting in Surfside, Brownlee was thrilled when nearly every member committed to meeting at her studio one day in February to throw bowls on the wheel and handcraft others. Members of Peninsula Arts Association will also donate time and effort this year. But even more bowls are needed, so in comparison to the 2010 event, the main focus has shifted a little and won’t be just on the participation of youngsters and members of the local art associations. Raymond explained, “It’s spreading from just children to the entire community. It’s really growing.”

Brownlee is targeting various clubs and groups on the Peninsula. She said she would “bring the supplies to them” and help them with bowl construction. If some community members are reluctant to send that moist clay squishing through their fingers, there are other ways to get involved. Brownlee needs donations of soup and bread. And, she needs volunteers to help serve or assist in pre-event organization. She also needs help with advertising. 

Many businesses, groups and individuals stepped forward as sponsors in 2010, including Beach House Catering, Shelburne Restaurant and Inn, Kelly’s Deli, Castaways 42nd Street Cafe, Jimella’s Fish House, Andrea Patten,     Bailey’s Bakery and Inez Greenfield. Georgie’s in Portland provided clay and glazes.

Empty bowls is an international grassroots movement to help end hunger. Check its website for more information: Participation varies from big cities to small towns in both the United States and at least a dozen other countries. The website states, “The basic premise is simple: Potters and other craftspeople, educators and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity.”

For more information, call Karen Brownlee at 642-4780  or (cell) 244-3940. She can be e-mailed at

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