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Unique brunches highlight commonalities
FRIEND TO FRIEND brunches are a part of Jane’s unique approach to breaking down barriers and reducing superficial relationships in her life. In the modern era, where Facebook interactions can be the sum of social lives, getting face-to-face is a refreshing change.

VIOLA - A trip to the local grocery store is a great reminder of how many superficial friendships we have:


“Hi, how are you?” 


And onward we stroll down the aisle.

Social media is yet another reminder, where we have ‘friends’ with whom we’ve never even had a full 15-minute conversation. 

Discouraged by this superficiality, I wanted to do something about it. My dream was a huge get-together with lots of round tables where at least five people would sit and share their stories, one person at a time. After a few years of trying to work out the logistics of organizing over 200 people and the necessary food, I gave up.

Instead, I’ve created what I call Face to Face (F2F) brunches. Since December I’ve been randomly picking ‘friends’from my social media page and inviting them to an early Sunday brunch at the Rooted Spoon in Viroqua.

It’s taken a few tries to get it right! The first group met in December. Not having a clue how to mix up my ‘friends’for smaller groups, I decide to invite anyone living on the east side of Highway 56. It worked! Kinda...

Ten of us met at 9 a.m. and started by picking a name from a hat, then inviting that person to tell us any part of their story they’d like to share. Or they could pass. We set a timer for five minutes. The person talked, we listened, and afterward we allowed three minutes for questions.

Later, after a wonderful morning of learning more about ‘friends’ than just that they were fine, I discovered I’d neglected to invite six other people who live in that same area. Leaving people out was not part of the plan.

So for the next brunch, I randomly picked people from my list of ‘friends.’ I figured if I invited 25 people, about half would respond and show up. They did, and we had a big group of 12 that time. The restaurant was bustling, kids were kicking the back of booths, and we had to strain to hear each other. Worse, it seemed to take forever to get through that many stories.

Back to the drawing board.

We’re on our seventh Face to Face Brunch and the going is getting smooth. We’re sticking to about six people per brunch, enough to fill one table. We end each brunch with a poem written by one of the guests. The time passes too quickly, and we’ve all learned much about each other. New friendships have been made, tears and laughs have been shared, and old friendships rekindled.

I can’t think of a better way to start the week than being at a table with women sharing their stories plus the bounty of wholesome food. I’m hoping this idea catches on and that others start their own series of F2F brunches.

The best part of F2F brunches is realizing we all have more in common than we know. Joanne's poem captures the essence perfectly:




No, we are not a brotherhood

though we are united,

tough, strong, and

solidly staunch,

loyal and at the ready.


No, we are not a brotherhood

though we stand 

mightily together…


We are a force to be reckoned with.


We are not a brotherhood

though we steadfastly

defend what is right and good

and rise up in support

against age-old suppression…


knowing, yes knowing

despite our relegation

‘to the back’


that we…

we women are powerful

in ways of peace and of love…


We are a sisterhood.


-Joanne Adragna Shird