Tag Archive: community


jars of preserves lined up on the window sill intentional community

This month marks the end of living in intentional community in Footscray for eight and a half years (albeit I will still be living in intentional proximity).

In that time, I have lived in six houses and with over 20 different people – some of them twice.  I’m packing at the house I’m in now to move again, and found it remarkable to have so much in the ‘storehouse’ to take with me preserved from various houses I’ve lived in. A metaphor somehow, of lives and home shared. I know my experiences of living in community will nourish me in the future as will the preserves I take with me and I’m conscious of the privilege of that.  Having good things stored up means the seasons have been fruitful. We have shared abundance together and there’s still some leftover.

I started this blog post wondering whether I might have some insight or wisdom I wanted to share but what comes are memories and gratitude:

Waking up my first morning in a new house to a stranger in the kitchen, the grief and grace of the days your good intentions come to nothing, the awful times when we weren’t sure we’d have anywhere to live, the raw joy when Maria got PR.  I remember working with Elizabeth Braid to create a grace resource celebrating something of Melbourne’s small alternative church communities, and the poem-prayer about negotiating everyone’s wants and needs:

A Prayer for the Share House

Take away my resentment that the dishes still have food on them, cold water-full sponge, soap bottle half gone…
and give me gratitude for the dishes that have been done today

Take away my resentment for the planned meal ingredients used and not replaced…
and give me gratitude for the food that has been provided today

Take away my resentment at the passive-aggressive pile of belongings outside my bedroom door…
and give me gratitude for the cleaning that has happened today

Take away my resentment for the sleep lost holding you crying after the nth fight with your boyfriend…
and give me gratitude that I have friends with whom to share life

Take away my resentment for the times you have company and I-just-want-to-be alone, for the reverse of that, and when we each want to be alone and the house just isn’t big enough for the both of us…
and give me gratitude for those moments…  the brief, beautiful moments… we get it right.

Take away my resentment for the things said, the things unsaid and those for which we do not have words but our spirit cries
and give me gratitude for the things said, the things unsaid and those for which we do not have words but our spirit cries

Amen

Today I add this addendum…

Take away those moments I felt like I failed, the guilt I felt falling short of all I imagined I should be able to be and do, all my ego thought I could.

and give me gratitude for my humanity, for leaning on and learning from others whose help I need – the seeds sown and fruit grown and the love. God, I’m so grateful for the love.

Thanks to all of you with whom I have lived, loved and shared life. May the road rise up to meet you and may it sometimes lead you back to my door.

Fifth Helpings

veg fresh vegetables cauliflower carrots celery silverbeet

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

I’ve heard someone in the community is sick. It’s cancer. It’s advanced. Chemo starts immediately and all their plans, all their future seems a question mark.  This is something the community does well, responding when someone is sick, when someone has died, when someone has had a baby… There is a sense of helplessness when people we know are struggling but we want to do what we can.  I add more vegies, I add more garlic, I pay for the leanest/highest grade mince and take care cutting everything nicely because I want to somehow imbue the food with wholesomeness and nurture, I want it to be restorative and healing. I pray as I cut and wash and I pray as I drain and brown and stir… I wish that Shepherd’s Pie were a cure for cancer but it isn’t. For some people, church is most meaningful at the high holidays of Christmas and Easter or as a venue for life celebrations like weddings and baptisms but for me often its most profound acts are in moments like these – when you’re scared, tired, sick… you actually can’t make it to church and your family come around and feed you the daily bread that nourishes, the water that quenches every thirst, the casserole that fits in the freezer.

Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 24 (fills three large tin foil casserole trays)

Ingredients

Shepherd’s Pie

Extra virgin olive oil
3 onions diced
2kg mince/ground lamb or beef
4 cloves garlic crushed
4 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
140g tomato paste
6 carrots (grated or chopped)
½ bunch chard chopped
250g frozen spinach (or fresh)
420g can corn kernels (drained) or 1.5 cups corn

Cauliflower Mash Topping

3 large cauliflower cut into florets (use potato if you want!)
150 g butter
Salt/pepper to taste
Grated cheese

Method

Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until soft.
  2. Add mince and stir until it is all cooked and browned.

[here I transferred to the slow cooker but you can cook at the stove]

  1. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chopped tomatoes and vegetables. Mix.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered while making the cauliflower topping. Let liquid evaporate so the mince thickens.

Cauliflower Topping

  1. Boil/steam the cauliflower until soft, this takes 8-10 minutes.
  2. Drain and allow ALL the steam to escape. Too much water left in the saucepan will make a ‘sloppy’ mash.
  3. Add the butter, salt, pepper. Using a stick blender puree until smooth.

To Assemble

  1. Place the shepherd’s pie mince/ground meat mix in the bottom of casserole dishes. Top with the cauliflower mash then sprinkle on the cheese.

Wrap for delivery/freezer storage OR

  1. Bake at 180C/350F for 20 mins and until the cheese is browned.

 

Published on Radical Discipleship.net

Fourth Helpings

img_3366We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

For many years I was a co-ordinator for a local community project called Sharing Abundance, the idea behind the project was food sustainability through food rescue and food redistribution. If we noticed a home in our neighbourhood had produce growing, especially if they didn’t seem to be using it, we’d knock and ask if we could pick it and donate it on to people in need: through our local church foodbank and outreach projects offering a community meal. Mostly people were happy to get rid of it seeing the produce as something that attracted lots of birds and bats or made a mess on the lawn below.

We knew when we started that an outcome would be produce: jam, chutney, cordial… what I didn’t know was how well this would work as a shared vision for bringing people together. A chain formed where people donated fruit, some people collected jars, some people picked produce, others were available for the processing and cooking days, a jar of the finished product might go back to the donor and others out to the projects for distribution. The members of this network didn’t necessarily meet one another but often the links were special points of connection. Connection to where our food comes from, to the seasons, to place, to the wisdom of our elders, to our neighbours, to each other. We learned about reducing waste, edible weeds, what to make with 5kg of parsley, what a loquat is and how to eat it (just bite it actually but mind the pips!). No one person had it all but the neighbourhood working together created more than the sum of its parts. Share the abundance and you will know what it is to be rich.

Apricot Jam

Ingredients

1kg apricots, halved and stoned, then quartered (or 1 kg of any fruit)
juice of a whole lemon (30-40ml)
1kg caster sugar
1 tsp butter (optional)

Method

Prepare: Wash fruit well then cut into even pieces discarding any leaves, stalks, stones, etc.

Sterilising jars

To sterilize the jars in the oven start by preheating the oven to 130 degrees Celsius/ 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the jars and the lids very thoroughly. Place the jars on a baking tray and put them in the oven for 20 minutes. In the meantime, boil the lids in a small pot full with water, drain in a colander.

Assemble: Put a saucer in the freezer to use to test the jam later. Place the apricots, lemon juice and sugar in a large non-reactive saucepan (like stainless steel or enamel). Use a large, wide pot for cooking the jam. The fruit-sugar mixture should only come one third up the sides of the pot. If you use a tall pot with a smaller diameter, the jam will need much longer until it sets.

Bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. If you like use a potato masher to work the jam and sugar together — this releases moisture from the fruit and gets them cooking faster.

Boil the fruit for 15-20 minutes: Bring the fruit to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will start with big, juicy bubbles and slowly progress to small, tighter bubbles as the jam gets closer to doneness. If foam forms on the top of your jam mixture move pot away from the heat and scoop it out with a spoon or add a knob of butter (about 1 tsp) to make it break down and return to low heat until butter is melted.

Know when the jam is done: After 15 mins, simply dribble some hot jam from the pot onto the frozen saucer and wait a few seconds for it to cool. Run your finger through the jam — if it makes a clear path through the jam and doesn’t fill in, then you have a good set. If setting point has not been reached, boil for a few minutes more, then test again.

Jar and store the jam: When the jam is set to your liking, remove the jam from the heat and transfer to the clean jars. Do not fill the hot jam in cold jars or the jars may shatter. Make sure that the sterilized jars are still hot when you fill them.

Use a soup ladle to fill the jars with the jam. Or pour some of the jam in a heat proof jug and then pour the jam into the jars. Use a wet paper towel or tea towel to clean any spilled jam from around the top of the jar and immediately place the lids on top and tighten. Ideally you want to place these jars somewhere they can stay without being moved for 24 hours cooling slowly you will hear the ‘plink’ of the lids sealing as the metal contracts as the jars cool and securely seal.

24 hours later check the jars. If the lids have sealed tight and flat, store jam in a cool, dark place. If the jar lid did not seal keep it in the fridge and enjoy straight away.

20190318_191214(0)

Images and moments from the Christchurch vigil in Melbourne hosted by the Islamic Council of Victoria at the State Library…    #chooselovenothate

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and other religious leaders led those gathered in prayer.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

K and I meet early in the vigil when she invites me to stand with her family.

K: I think New Zealanders are taking it harder actually. Muslims… we’re used to it. When I first heard, I assumed it was Muslims against Muslims. I guess we’re desensitized maybe. Things like this happen to Muslims all the time.

T: But how awful… that this should happen so often that you could become desensitized to it. Things like this rarely happen in NZ.

K: For us, they are all martyrs.

T: Is it an honour, to die this way?

K: No… It is still a pain. It means a lot that New Zealanders feel that with us… are you from Christchurch?

T: No, Wellington. But I still feel it. What you need to understand about us is that once you’ve welcomed someone onto the marae, they’re not a guest anymore – they’re family.  I don’t need to have ever met them. This week all New Zealanders grieve because we have lost members of our family.

…we hug, and stand together through the vigil.

They say from the front, if you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you, and in this moment: all Muslims are hugged, all Kiwis are hugged. I hope you feel that.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowerschristchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

A group of us sing – Muslims and Kiwis together… Te aroha, the national anthem in English and Maori “…in the bonds of love we meet“, Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home and John Lennon’s Imagine… what an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Tutira mai nga iwi, (Line up together, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Tutira mai nga iwi, (Stand in rows, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Whai-a te marama-tanga, (Seek after knowledge)
me te aroha – e nga iwi! (And love of others – everybody!)
Ki-a tapatahi, (Be really virtuous)
Ki-a ko-tahi ra (And stay united)
Tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)

 

Artwork by Rowena Fry

Second Helpings

credo meal table hospitality.jpg

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

For over 20 years Credo, in Melbourne, Australia, was a community gathering around food, recreation and creative art to foster a sense of home – especially for those of us experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental illness and isolation.  The Credo community believed good community development is possible when people from all economic and cultural backgrounds get together and support one another…

Read the rest of this article on RadicalDiscipleship.net and find Credo’s Spaghetti Bolognese here…

Helpings (1)

christop table of hospitality

Illustrator – Chris Booth

 

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

Our practices of radical hospitality and community have something to offer we know the world is hungry for and to that end we are going to share some recipes over the coming weeks that are for community meals. Don’t think: How can I reduce the scale of this to feed my family? Instead think: Who shall I invite to share food at my table?

This is the first of a series of reflections I’ve written on community meals with each one including a recipe…Enjoy Credo’s Carbonara recipe at RadicalDiscipleship.

 

Stops can be starts

grey car help your neighbours my footscray

I walk home from Metrowest, shopping bags swinging. Over a low fence to my left, I see 3 people working to get a car rolling off the lawn – maybe with these bouts of heavy rain its sunk down on the grass. “Another pair of hands make a difference?” I call. “Yeah? Maybe?” they answer. So I put things down and join the line up at the hood. “On 3, 1…2…3…”. It takes a few swings to get momentum on it but then the car rolls smoothly onto the driveway. We don’t even exchange names but, for a brief moment, we have shared common ground. #stopscanbestarts  #commonground 
 #walkingmyneighbourhood