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Profile: LoveFeast Table Blends Online and Offline Community

Kristin Potler, Love Feast Table - Arianne Teeple
Kristin Potler, Love Feast Table - Arianne Teeple

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For many people who start an online journal, it's typically an information highway that flows in one direction, allowing them to remain largely anonymous as they share their life experiences, expertise, family life, and opinions with an equally anonymous audience from behind the protective barrier of a computer.

For Kristin Potler and Chris Ann Brekhus, their LoveFeast Table blog a way for the two women to stay connected with each other.
Friends since they met in Baltimore when their sons were six months old, the two stay-at-home moms and their families had formed a close bond, sharing meals and celebrations together. Nine years into their friendship, however, Chris Ann and her husband moved back to Minneapolis with their five children. At the same time, Kristin and her family were embarking on a new adventure of their own.

"Within a month of each other we both sold our homes. My family and I went abroad for an extended period of time doing service work. When we came back to Baltimore, Chris Ann and I were determined to keep in touch and create opportunities to keep our real life relationship with each other going. During a visit to Baltimore, Chris Ann and I were brainstorming over sweet potato fries and beer at Golden West Café," Potler says.

"We started thinking about all the times we'd shared meals together with our families and talking about this concept of a love feast table and coming together," says Brekhus.

"We thought maybe we should do a cookbook memoir based on the meals we'd shared. My husband was a chef for a number of years and had created many of those meals. He would be a great resource for recipes. As we did our research, we quickly realized that we would need to understand the blogging world. And so for the past few years we diverged, getting into the blogging and social media, which has broadened our horizons and perspective of where we want to go," Potler says.

To say the two were technologically challenged would be kind. Neither had any experience with computers beyond performing the simplest tasks like sending email. No one's naming names, but one of them admits that she had to have her children turn the computer on for her.

Undeterred, they launched the blog in September 2008. The plan was to share their experiences – good and bad – as passionate food lovers and home cooks, fledgling food bloggers and potential cookbook authors. Over the past two years, however, they say they've learned valuable lessons and developed what they call the LoveFeast Table lifestyle.

"We quickly realized that the blogs and social media are a launching point for conversations and we had finally found our group of people. Being a stay-at-home mom can be kind of isolating and we had been raising our children for 16 years. We found this group of women who were as passionate as we were about exploring who they were and stepping outside the home. It has been fascinating," says Potler.

"We also discovered that these relationships we were making online and with people we met at conferences and meetups, the in-person connects, were what we liked. Kristin was making contacts in Baltimore and I was doing the same in Minneapolis and we wanted to meet each other's people," Brekhus recalls.

So, the two decided to begin hosting events. The first BlogLove event, held in Baltimore, and a second in Minneapolis, confirmed what they suspected – they loved the in-person relationships they were building.

"We were really shocked by the relationships we were building online. We mocked it in the beginning because it was foreign and we couldn't figure out how it would translate. It's really evolved and we've built some really great relationships, but our strength is the in-person events," says Potler.

It's the root of the philosophy behind LoveFeast Table, gathering people together and hearing their stories, finding out where fellow bloggers have come from and where they are going.

"We want our BlogLove events to be experiential and inspiring, almost like a living art type of experience where people encounter something new and unexpected. They're a little bit out of the box and create conversations, new content and fresh ideas. We love being challenged and encountering things that make us look at life in a new way," Potler says.

As 2011 approaches, the two hope to continue pushing people to break out of their comfort zone, meet new people, share new experiences, and embrace the joy of living a beautiful life. To complement that message, they've begun blogging about their travels, easy décor ideas, and other areas of interest.

"As we've walked this journey, we've been amazed at what it's become. We're trying to show people a different lifestyle that focuses on beautiful experiences. A meal can be an elegant five-course meal or as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich, it's really about savoring the moment and the people you're sharing it with," they both say.

Lovefeast table's next BlogLove event will be held at Load of Fun in Baltimore on January 22. BlogLove "Takes Flight" will feature aerial artist Mara Neimanis and her Flight Theater and is open to all Baltimore bloggers.

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- Front page image of Kristin Potler, left, and Chris Ann Brekhus, right, creators of Love Feast Table by Suzanne Jean Photography
- Kristin Potler, Love Feast Table by Arianne Teeple
- A Love Feast Table event by Suzanne Jean Photography
- Chris Ann Brekhus by Suzanne Jean Photography
- Decorative pumpkins made by Kristin Potler. photo by Arianne Teeple
- A Love Feast Table event by Suzanne Jean Photography
- Kristin Potler, Love Feast Table by Arianne Teeple
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