Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Been a While

I haven't posted in a long time. Things have been busy and I haven't been playing with recipes I feel either 1) particularly like posting or 2) particularly like photographing so that I can, in fact, post them and make them at least somewhat visually appealing.

Recently, I started volunteering at a soup kitchen in my community. The guests who come have formed a community, a supportive community. They are, for the most part, grateful individuals and help those of us who are newer and don't know our way around that well. What surprises me is the number of children I see in the line on any given night. Fact: 1 in 5 people in line at a soup kitchen in America is a child. 1 in 5.

What's wrong with us as a country?

And what's wrong with us that we're not doing more to empower these people to move beyond their current circumstances? There are certainly plenty of options for programs that are more comprehensive than the one I volunteer at. Some provide job training, others have guests work in a community garden, or provide GED assistance, resume help, etc. How do these programs work? And how can we implement these successes in other places to help the guests move to a new position in life?

Yesterday, a volunteer asked me if the people who came to the soup kitchen were ashamed. He was a college student, a white male. I wanted to be annoyed with him, but his question was so earnest that I couldn't bring myself to be annoyed. Instead, I told him I felt confident some of the guests were ashamed, given the economic downturn. I'm sure some people thre never imagined they'd be guests at a soup kitchen. But, and this is the important thing, many of the guests likely see no reason to be ashamed--just as the volunteer saw no shame in asking the question he did.

Recently I listened to a Toni Morrison speech about the power of language--the power of language to subvert our racist qualities, our classist and sexist and agist qualities. Here's the link if your'e interested--it's about 40 minutes. Look for the September 24, 2010 podcast.