Sunday, December 26, 2010

Camaraderie: The S. Kitchen and Carnelius Q.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The S Kitchen when I received my first invitation to an event, but The S Kitchen has definitely become something that exceeds my expectations! We have all been bombarded by messages of the importance of “bringing back the family table”. It is well known that many of life’s lessons, values, and meaningful dialogue happen over food. However, for the LGBT/Queer Community – where defining family is not so simply about blood relatives – having a space to eat, share stories, and develop a political analysis and civic engagement with loved ones is critical. And The S Kitchen has even found a way to make it fun.

What I love most about this concept is how easy it is to get involved. It is youth development for adults – everyone has a chance to bring whatever skills or lenses they cherish to the table, and there is nothing wrong with just sitting back eating food and stimulating your mind, either. And what I have found is that this low maintenance method of community building yields maximum results. In this time of diminished resources and increased stress – it often seems a burden to care. We attend the fundraisers of the causes we love. We sit on boards and advisory panels that all have various degrees of bureaucracy and red tape. And we try to do the best with what we’ve got for our families of choice. And The S Kitchen honors that. It stays relevant because it is a mechanism that thrives off of what its participants generate.

Jason’s highly effective skills as a community organizer, trainer, and motivational friend fuel this
dynamic collection of individuals, and his commitment to radical and progressive politics combined with his gentle and laid back approach create an atmosphere where The S. Kitchen members unwittingly challenge themselves to do better, be better, and do more – all under the guise of enjoying themselves and building their cooking and social justice tool kits. Participants are allowed to contribute in several ways – from hosting events, to contributing as guest bloggers on the website to contributing recipes that will be helpful for The S. Kitchen members on a budget or on the go. And what’s most important is that everyone feels validated in their experiences and is asked to genuinely contribute to conversation.

The best ideas are most often the simple ones. And what is simpler than a hearty meal and a vibrant conversation? I believe that the true testament to The S. Kitchen’s success is how it's grown beyond the capacity of its humble founder. And since Jason is not an individual that could ever be short of ideas, of loving friends, and of a passion to keep moving forward – I believe that anyone who contributes to The S, Kitchen in its nascent form will reap the benefits of being able to stand proudly and attest that they had a stake in the humble beginnings of what is sure to be a international phenomena. The recipes are getting more creative. The guest speakers are happy to have such a refreshing and welcoming platform to promote their causes. The attendees at events are growing, as people excitedly bring their friends. And the blogs remain fierce in their cutting edge analysis and wit. The S. Kitchen is a voice that needs to be heard because it is the voice of a community that has always existed but lacked venues like this to articulate, reflect, and define itself. This idea can never be stale because Jason has created a mechanism that thrives on innovation, continuous quality improvement, maximizing the talents of its growing base of supporters, and always revolving around a critical staple in our lives: food.

I think there is so much more to this idea to be unearthed. So much more potential that The S. Kitchen has to offer to social justice movements of ecological advocacy, food justice and healthy eating in metropolitan fast paced life, developing the leadership of young people, and LGBTQQI advocacy and holistic support. Right now, The S. Kitchen thrives off of the genius of its founder and the love labors of its volunteers. But for this idea to achieve its true potential, The S Kitchen needs support to build an infrastructure that will support its simultaneous development in adjoining communities.

It is a foolish idea to invest in a great idea not backed by a sound plan or championed by a thoughtful leader’s certainly. But it is more foolish to ignore the sound reasoning of a seasoned activist, advocate, and community organizer who has worked for and alongside non-profit, city and state government, and independent leadership bodies with a proven track record of innovation and success. Jason has boldly invested in his passion, which is maximizing the passions of others and building community. And his community has responded with an overwhelming “thank you”.

I urge you to support this desperately needed space for lovers of life, food, and building a sustainable tomorrow, not just fiscally, but by becoming a member! I know that my cooking skills have vastly improved. My awareness of social issues outside of my work sphere is much more acute. And most importantly, I have been plugged into a community of loving and creative people that remind me I am not in the fight for a better world alone. It is the most productive outlet for self care I have ever experienced, and it will continue with or without your support. You, however, have the unique opportunity to increase The S Kitchen’s impact ten-fold. And considering the economic times we find ourselves in, an investment like that is invaluable.

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