Last night I attended three very different events.
The first was an information session regarding the new Local Market Co-op. A collective of earnest, grassroots social innovators that are helping to revitalize one of the empty storefronts in downtown Stratford with a grocery store that will feature local producers and purveyors, and has an eye on eventually producing from their site as well.
The project is being driven by a group of people that I have a great deal of respect for. They’ve seen a need, they’ve done the research in the form of a feasibility study and looking at other co-operative models, and now they’re acting on that need. I think it’s so incredibly brave, and the energy that they’re bringing to this venture is so positive that I vow to do all that I can to support them and their success, which starts with a $150/yr subscription. Look for the opening on June 1st(ish)…
From that meeting, I headed over to the fabulous Factory 163, where I had been the night before attending a very unique networking event, to watch some storytellers in action. The Factory is another site that is very special in Stratford, and the women that run it are another example of social innovators that open their space to creatives and community builders and will hopefully reap the rewards of being that unique supportive and collaborative space.
The storytellers and their stories were very diverse and all wonderfully engaging. I love the idea of a community of people coming together to either practice their craft or share some of who they are by letting us into their lives one small tidbit at a time. I’ve committed to sharing a story at an upcoming event, now I just have to choose one that my friends and family haven’t all heard five times already…
Note: There’s a storytelling festival being held in St. Marys from June 1-4 put on by Once Upon A Thames. They’re still looking for a few storytellers for their Story Slam on June 1st, so if you’re interested in sharing your story, please get in touch…
I left the storytelling event to go watch the Iron Chef Waterloo event at Nik & Nat’s Uptown 21 with my good friend Shawn from Simple. Fish and Chips (and new friend Tim from The Church). This event has become quite legendary in foodie circles in Perth County and Waterloo Regions and I was so pleased to be able to be witness to it live. I ran into a number of local friends that were also there watching the cook-off live, and what made the night even more special for me was having people stop me and introduce themselves to me because they recognized me from Twitter. Talk about an engaged and warm community!
The event at Uptown21 was extraordinary to watch; literal poetry (or food porn) in motion. Young chefs, that obviously love what they do, sweating it out and working in a shared kitchen space to create amazing tastes and dishes for no other reason than to enjoy the camaraderie, share their love of cooking and food with the hosts and the gathered crowd, and raise money for a local charity. Even though the team from Langdon Hall was declared the official winner over Six Thirty Nine, everyone that was there was a clear winner to have just been a part of the experience.
Each stop last night clearly had it’s own unique narrative, but there were many common themes throughout them all; community, connecting, sharing, building, exploring, innovating. How spectacular!
At the Local Market Co-op, their story is about people, working as a community for the betterment of the community. Their story is about action.
At the Factory163 storytelling event, while the story may literally be the story, it’s also about sharing wonderful, strange, embarrassing, revealing insights that give us a glimpse into one’s life and the events that shape one’s character. Those stories are about “us”.
And at Iron Chef Waterloo, that story is about how food goes from farm to table and all the hands that have a part it that journey. It’s about local farmers, a community of foodies, chefs and business people that support and show regard for the greater community, the ingredients, and the process.
When I was younger, I used to scoff at storytellers. I thought that films and TV shows and everything about them was a waste of time; that there were so many more compelling issues and important challenges that deserved our time and energies.
The reality is of course, that all action, all human activity is part of a story. It’s our stories from our past or those stories that we’re actively forming by living them that makes the us part of the whole.
When I was 13 years old, I wrote the following poem (be kind, I was 13):
My life is a canvas
Everyone leaves their own mark with their own style and colour
From the man who asks the time
To the friend I’ve always had
To all the people who entered my life
You made a masterpiece.
I love being older now and having a more active role in how my next chapters unfold and welcoming all of the wonderful, warm, and challenging characters that are already central characters and those that I’ve yet to meet who will be a part of that. I am ready to flip the page.