When the going gets tough, the tough get asking the Universe for help. Lots of emails, lots of apples, lots of courgettes, lots of unaccompanied kids, lots of pot washing. Stuff is piling up. Family Cafe project has grown in fits and starts and is still wending its way from being a plucky idea about how things could be somewhat sorted in a situation of food insanity, towards becoming a real social movement about how to do food better nowadays.
At the project outset....'That looks like rather a big hill in front of me and a long route towards its summit. But I've made a flask of strong tea and some granola bars. Onwards! Clomp, clomp, clomp. Phewee!.... (wipes brow demurely) It looks so much nearer in real life doesn't it? I'm actually getting a bit tired now and that tea doesn't stay that hot after a few cups does it? Seem to have munched my way through that scoff as well.... I think I need some help here...'
That feels like the journey so far. Don't get me wrong. There is a passionate, beautiful, brilliant bunch of co-workers, volunteers, well-wishers and funders to help me. I'm not really alone and never have been. It's much more than me and it couldn't have gotten this far without us all. But in my mind I suppose I hold the vision for something that I'm trying to manifest. I see how things can be and I'm reaching towards that. I'm lucky that people seem to instinctively 'get' what Family Cafe is all about and they have gladly come on board and pushed me towards that summit. However, I hold sway over the budget, I did the form-filling, I sorted the insurance, I chose the colour.... It's my project if it doesn't succeed (and it's everyone's if it does). I worry about not getting it done, or getting it right, about creating work for myself and my co-workers, about engagement, about hungry kids, leftovers, burnt things, the emails, the courgettes and the apples. Sometimes it feels like I'm down to the last granola bar... Cue the mournful bellow of some sort of ram's horn bugle through the misty mountain pass...)
That's when I woman-up and send out a plea. To those of you that have witnessed the foghorn voice booming out demands from the kitchen for washer-up'ers or chair stackers, this might sound familiar but I'm talking about the silent one that I do when in overwhelm. I take a good look at all the wonderful things our project is managing to do on 1.5 paid staff who earn £8.50 per hour, in a weeny end of Sneinton with no footfall, using food that some quarters have consigned to the skip, with a little budget of under £30,000 for a whole year and with a frankly brilliant team of volunteers and eaters... And we've got so far to get up this hill to try and show the world what we can do to feed people by simply getting them together over a shared pot of scoff. We are so passionate about social eating as a really simple and effective way to make sure we really look after our precious food resources, to reclaim space for socialising, to empower each other over a shared meal, to simply have a good knees up and a bit of a scoff... I've got a vision but I can't do it all and I know no one is expecting me to do it all and, and, and.....
And I say UNIVERSE! (and beyond) HELP ME! I NEED SOME ASSISTANCE! please send help, send support, send inspiration, send someone nice in a plaid shirt with a beard who can play the drums, send the right people at the right time, animal, mineral or vegetable... HELP!
And it shows up doesn't it? If you have eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to feel, that help shows up every time. As I've said, I'm never really on my own with the stress. Yes indeed, I create it, but I really feel like that primal howl echoed across the mountain range and was picked up and responded to. I am absolutely humbled to have our project chosen for the first Good For Nothing, Nottingham. It seems they were just on the other side of that misty mountain top heading towards that shared summit of true social betterment...
What an immense pleasure to be reminded of what a great idea we have in Family Cafe and how we are all helping to manifest it; how there is so much good and so many good people who are dedicated to just making stuff better for us all.... What a great relief from the worry of running the project and holding that vision to get an invitation to dream for help without strings- a 'what can we do to help you? A Good For Nothing shout out event where I get to dream up a brief and have a Family Cafe tribe emerge from the Universe to make that happen. Big Loves. Big Wowsers. Not sure what'll happen, and how it will all look but our Family Cafe crew have been chosen for a hack and that feels mighty good.
Big mountain, well on the way towards the top.... It's like we've been handed some Kendall Mint Cake and someone's found a stash of Yorkshire Teabags...
When we get there you'll know about it and in the meantime please follow us at @GFNNottingham and @secretkitchlady
Picture by Dan McCarthy
http://www.danmccarthy.org/ (Dan please don't sue me, I have actual prints of yours hanging on my wall, just not this one. I love you and thanks for reading this blog)
I'm Vic, and I run the Secret Kitchen Cafe in Sneinton, Nottingham. This is where me or Marsha post our updates on events and other happenings.