Come as you are

lunch at fifteen 1

You know that saying, that you should do one thing every day that scares you? I’m not sure who wrote it, but I admittedly always scoffed at it a bit – healthy fear is a good thing, most often triggered for good reason, and pushing beyond that life-saving emotion isn’t necessarily the secret to a successful venture. But. Sometimes you gotta stop staring at your computer, blankly and incredulously taking in the endless barrage of awfulness and just get out and do something already.

I posted something on my personal Facebook page a few days ago – an open wish that we could somehow reclaim those viral images of angry people bearing tiki torches and flood the internet with people gathered together, armed with casseroles and curries and baklava and pie — heading to a backyard barbecue or picnic. To have peaceful pluralist potlucks and picnics everywhere, and use those garden torches to illuminate conversation and real connection. To gather people in our communities and spread the message that bigotry and hate are unacceptable, that love wins — and brings pie.

And so a few days went by, and people liked it, and loved it, and commented and texted offering help and ideas, and things kept happening in the news, and we all continued to feel angry and frustrated and wanting to do something – anything – to stand up to all this. So if you’re game, lets do what we can in whatever ways we can to bring people together and light up the dark, everywhere, wherever you are. I went to the dollar store yesterday and bought a bunch of tiki torches. This weekend, a week since the events in Charlottesville and the killing of Heather Heyer, let’s gather in parks and living rooms and back yards and remind the world -or even just your cul-de-sac— that there is good in the world and support in our communities, and that we won’t allow racism to permeate our society. Let’s invite people beyond our usual circles — neighbours, friends, coworkers, newcomers — so that we can get to know and better understand feelings and perspectives beyond our own, so we can look those who feel scared or marginalized in the eye and remind them that we stand with them. So that maybe we can generate a clearer sense of where to go from here, or at least provide comfort to each other at a time when every day seems to bring a new reason to be scared and horrified. There are few better ways to get to know each other than over a meal, particularly one everyone has contributed to. (And if you can’t gather some people for a meal -or snack, or coffee- this weekend, do something when you can. This sort of thing never expires and should really carry on forever.) I loved learning awhile ago that in Switzerland, in French, a potluck is called a pique-nique Canadien. Canada isn’t so much a melting pot as a potluck — we all bring something unique and wonderful to the table.

Among all the calls and texts and bits of brainstorming, my friend Brooke pulled together a website overnight, to direct questions and upload images so we can spread love (and pie) far and wide, and is organizing a potluck in Salt Lake City.

People are so amazing.

Potluck Collage

If you’re in Calgary, we’re going to have a big potluck picnic at St. Patrick’s Island, at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, on traditional Blackfoot territory, this Sunday, August 20. I hope you can come – anytime between 12-4, and if it spills over into the evening, we’ll light the big fire pit at the top of the Rise—that big, smooth hill right in the middle. Bring something—as much or as little as you like, enough to share with a few others, and if you don’t have the time or the means to make something, please come anyway. Rather than organize a buffet-style potluck with one long table, let’s keep it simple—everyone can pack a picnic, find a patch of grass or spread out onto benches and tables throughout the park and wander, mingle, chat, see what others have brought, learn some things. What do you think? I’ll bring extra forks.

To get there: St. Patrick’s Island is in the East Village, between the River Walk and Memorial Drive. You can access it from either side of the Bow — on the River Walk side it’s close to Fort Calgary and the Simmons Building, right on the bike path. Once you cross over the George C. King Bridge (formerly St. Patrick’s Bridge), you’ll see a public art installation (Bloom) beside Trout Beach, a pebbly pond surrounded by cement benches (everything is designed to withstand another flood). Further along the path you’ll come across The Rise, a massive hill that’s like the ultimate toboggan hill on one side, and steep steps on the other. We can make this our general meeting place, with plenty of grass to plant ourselves on, and the option to spread out even further—there’s a playground behind The Rise with a small picnic area, and further down, toward the zoo (it’s still under construction at that end) there’s a larger picnic area, with long tables and benches and outdoor grills. (There are even public washrooms.) Let’s do it!

Please share, and let us know if you’re doing something, wherever you are. It takes all of us to make a difference.

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13 comments on “Come as you are

  1. Jo
    August 17, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    People like you give me hope. Watching the candlelight vigil also gave me hope. Thankyou for sharing your humanity with us.

  2. Anonymous
    August 17, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Love this idea, I will share but will not be able to make it. I will do this another time and post a pic. Thank you for your action and kindness.

  3. Maureen Wielinga
    August 17, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Thank you Julie. You couldn’t have known when you were posting this that yet another horrendous and pointless incident of violence would be unfolding in Barcelona. I will be with you in spirit this Sunday and creating my own version of it with the people I need to get to know in my community. Thank you for suggesting a beautiful and uplifting way to break the darkness of fear and hate.

    • Julie
      August 21, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Thanks Maureen!

  4. Carolyn
    August 18, 2017 at 11:07 am

    what a wonderful idea and a big thumbs up on being part of the solution in such a positive way.

  5. Phil Piltch
    August 19, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    What a wonderful idea. My wife and I will be there.

    • Julie
      August 21, 2017 at 9:50 am

      I’m so glad Phil!

  6. carol s-b
    August 20, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    This event was still going when I left… people arriving with cookie tins (dang!), people leaving with casserole dishes… the samosa queen (or maybe she was a duchess) gave me a delicious samosa, I shared my tasty sour cherries, and even got to meet Pierre Lamielle.
    What a good day! Thanks, Julie. A quiet act of revolution.

    • Julie
      August 22, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      I barely got to talk to you! :(

  7. Corinne Dahm
    August 21, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Even being part of Project Potluck from a distance is powerful The responsibility of sharing the significant merit of the event in our communities and carrying the commitment of inclusion with us always, at the Farmer’s Market, in traffic and line ups at work bees etc.is our duty as defenders of diverse, peaceful communities. We wish we could have attended in person. Thank you Julie for your remarkable leadership.

    • Julie
      August 21, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Thanks Corinne! That’s such an important point.

    • Julie
      August 22, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      Thank you Corinne for being a pillar of our food community!

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