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The Comfort of Simple Pleasures (and Home-baked Bread!) June 25, 2010

Posted by maggieknight in Une diète pour La Belle Province.
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Dinner didn’t happen until late today. Partly, we didn’t start making our locally-sourced bread until after work, and partly I was distracted by media tracking of the G20 protest today and reacting to news of the new regulation under the Public Works Protection Act that designates large areas of downtown Toronto as “public works”, which allows police to arrest anyone within 5m of the fence who refuses to identify themselves and state their purpose. (For a legal analysis, look here. You might also be interested in the Oppose the PWPA petition and Facebook group.)

Part of making change is starting at home. My thoughts are with my friends and colleagues and their friends and colleagues and neighbours who marched in the streets of Toronto today, and with those who will march again tomorrow. I hope that they will be safe and that things do not get too crazy. I will continue to do what I can from afar, helping to spread news from mainstream and alternative media, as well as from friends on the ground. But this evening I am taking comfort in the simple pleasures of simple food.

I am reminded of the first full day of Power Shift Canada last October. The hundreds of youth from across the country had arrived the day before and programming was well underway. We lead coordinators were surviving on varying levels of sleep deprivation and caffeine and were attempting to get everyone together to touch base. Then somebody’s friend (and I wish very much I could remember his name) arrived with fruit and veg and hummus and home-cooked nourishment, and we remembered that we needed to eat, and that many of us had forgotten about lunch. For a moment or two we forgot that we were running a massive youth climate conference and were just a bunch of young, passionate people, laughing and sharing delicious food and giving each other back massages. That moment of shared food was a short moment of calm and friendship and joy in a whirlwind of a weekend.

So tonight we enjoyed fresh-baked bread, local cheddar and brie, butter, tomato-and-basil salad with the leftover dressing from last night, and local apple juice. The bread (an adaptation from my mother’s recipe in which Nat substituted honey and maple syrup for sugar) is better than anything I’ve ever had from a store, and the basil was picked about 5 minutes before we started eating it. I wish that we had been able to welcome all our friends from the G20 march today to a similar simple feast (I know when I was at the People’s Summit last weekend there were a lot of organizers running around on little sleep and little food). OK, we would need more basil plants and a quadruple recipe of our bread, but I would like to give that moment of friendship and nourishment back to others–this time they are on the front lines and I am not.

This is the beauty of food. Community organizers don’t like potlucks just because there’s some hippie code they need to live by. We like potlucks because they bring people together. Having trouble retaining your volunteers? Have a potluck. Want to catch up with some friends you haven’t seen since high school but afraid it might be awkward? Have a potluck. Need to deal with some tough organizational choices? Have a potluck, then get down to business. Food doesn’t just nourish us physically. Making food together brings you closer to your fellow cooks. Eating together is at the heart of creating community. Breaking bread together is a sign of trust.

This evening we saw photos from journalists inside the G20 fence telling us that there were great snacks and an open bar. Maybe before the summit ends we’ll see sharing of food across the fence. Would the police arrest people on the inside if they were catapulting loaves of bread over the barrier?

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