Eggs- easily seasoned and molded. Rice- versatile and delicious, can be either sticky or fluffy.
Scrambled eggs + rice + (gluten free soy sauce * garlic) = YUM.
Community, to me, is like a recipe. Recipes combine separate items into something new, distinct and intentional. We are brought together with our unique experiences, and as a community we all contribute to constructing a new reality and society.
Something I’ve been marinating on is what my recipe for community is. Questions I’ve been sitting with:
- What is essential? What makes community community?
- Ingredients and amount?
- Preparation method? Utensils and tools needed?
- Related to above, do I have the skills to prepare everything? If not, how do I connect with those that do, and how can our labor be an invitation to create together?
Recognizing this may change as I continue to bite my teeth into it, my recipe is:
- an abundance of understanding
- a cup of belonging
- a scoop of care
- a hug full of unicorn sprinkles
- 3 spoonfuls of accountability
- love, respect, and trust as binding agents
- 2 cups of honest communication
- 4 heaping cups of liberation
- a dash of justice
- laughter and joy to taste
- 3 tablespoons of safety and autonomy
- a cup of mutual care
While each individual component is important to me, the amounts were a tad arbitrary. I got hung up on whether there should be more of certain ingredients than others, if some were more foundational and others a garnish or bonus of sorts. Eventually, I did a free write of what I need out of my support network and what I value out of communities I actively participate in. That birthed the list above, and I kept it as is.
What type of container/formation do I want for this community? For example, it could be a layer cake where everything is the same size and equal, or a stew, or dumplings with ingredients hugged tightly inside of an outer wrapper/layer of protection.
What tools and containers do I need to prepare this community? How long does it take to do each part?
Reminiscing about foods I eat when in community with others, gumbo and jambalaya come to mind. Gumbo in my family was reserved for Christmas dinner only, a once yearly mouth-watering, savory bowl of delicious with a kick. With family dynamics being what they are, I don’t want to equate gumbo with toxic positivity. Also, jambalaya has always been more of my everyday comfort food.
A jambalaya type vessel, made by a chop, combine and simmer preparation method. Breaking down the ugly barriers of oppression and marginalization, chopping away at our society until we have the ingredients listed above, using our knife of justice to add it all to the large pot of liberation. Letting it simmer, it takes time to form. That is my community.
Thinking about how the ingredients will be added to the vessel, the amounts might change. Understandable and to be expected. Community is an ever evolving pot of jambalaya.
Prepare by chopping all the ingredients with your sharpened knife of justice, to be added to your large pot of liberation.
Coat the bottom of the pot with an oil to heat things up. I enjoy using the oil of disruption and waiting until it’s sizzling and hopping around in the pot.
Slide in each ingredient, stirring frequently and seasoning with laughter and joy throughout.
If you really want to get fancy dancy with your recipe for community, some other things to consider are:
- doing things to taste: what does this mean in this context? To me, it represents questioning if you still resonate with parts of the community. There might be times I want to add more or less of something.
- time: how long does it take to create community? When will you know it has been achieved? Different times for different parts?
- pleasure activism: coined by Keith Cylar, the founder of Housing Works and popularized by adrienne maree brown, pleasure activism explains how pleasure gets lost under the burden of oppression, and it is liberatory to reclaim it. I think of it as having 2 prongs: the first being making ‘traditional’ activism as pleasurable as it can be, and the second being advocating for marginalized groups to reclaim pleasure in their daily lives. With community, we frequently come together in times of emergency but how will your community come together in times of joy. Is that reflected in your recipe?
What is your recipe for community? What separate things are essential to helping you find a place where you belong, and how do they come together? Holla at a homie.
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