On June 27, a community gathered to celebrate the birthday of Rob Peck. Guests enjoyed excellent performers and a warm spirit. The evening also included a fundraiser in which community members generously raised $1,310 to support the Stone Soup Café.
Photos by Jazz Peck
Thank you to the artists who donated performances. Please check out their websites and hire one of them for your next event!
"I'm pushing sixty. That's enough exercise for me." - Mark Twain
"First you forget names, then you forget faces, then you forget to pull your zipper up, then you forget to pull your zipper down." - Leo Rosenberg
"One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings." - Virginia Woolf
"The spiritual eyesight improves as the physical eyesight declines." - Plato
I endeavor to enter my 7th decade with a minimum of conflict and a maximum of collaboration. The first requires what some call EQ, short for Emotional Intelligence. The second relies on what I call We-Q. A term I coined to honor the interpersonal intelligence it takes to be a good team player, and the collective wisdom a good partnership creates.
I can't change the fact that I'm getting older. In hopes I'm also growing wiser, I want to mark the occasion by focusing more on giving back than receiving. So I made my 60th a Benefit Concert for the Stone Soup Café, a local non-profit that is helping low-income families eat healthier food, AND feel they are valued members of our community. Each Saturday they transform a Unitarian Universalist Church basement into the Stone Soup Café. The story ends the same way the Stone Soup Café began- with the immense excitement of sitting down to a communal feast.
For me, the real magic in the story, and the pay what you can café, is that no one feels beholden to a wealthy benefactor. Instead everything that goes into the Stone Soup is part of the collective wealth of the community. A significant portion of the food that gets eaten is locally grown, and lovingly prepared by many hands. Diners have several opportunities to drop money in various sealed cash-boxes, so no one knows whether the person sitting at their table paid, or how much. But everyone knows that their dignity is being preserved, and they belong to a caring community.
My main ally in arranging the Benefit Concert is the Stone Soup Café's Development Director, Ari Pliskin. At our first meeting we quickly discovered we had different styles and strengths (duh!) Thankfully, we also learned fast how to identify each other's assets and freely acknowledge our deficits. One of the latter for me is logistics. By happy contrast Ari is pragmatic, and highly detail oriented. Tasks that for me would be tedious like keeping the minutes of our meetings, and tracking to do lists and timelines, were right up Ari's alley.
My ally's strength as an organizer freed me to use my own as a talent scout and concert coordinator. Now there are two roles I relish. I'm guessing Ari and I aren't alone in having a mix of attention deficits and attention assets. A clear sign we're tapping the latter is when our outlook on a task shifts from obligation to opportunity. Ari's attention assets allowed him to align his passion for organization with his proficiency at setting up a web page for online donations. Mine energized me to word-smith creative press releases, and galvanize my circle of fellow performers to provide free entertainment.
Everyone I asked, who had the date free, gladly agreed to lend their talents to the Benefit. In return I told them adding their gifts to the concert line up was the best birthday present they could give me. (To which several replied "That's good Rob- because I wasn't planning on buying you one!)
Kidding aside, their generous support sparked one final insight into We-Q and Attention Assets. Both work best when partners combine a sense of purpose with a spirit of fun. I believe anytime we blend collaboration with camaraderie, our desire to contribute, and our ability to make a difference, increase. Banding together in service of something larger than us raises our We-Q, and harnesses our attention assets. Our participation simultaneously flows from, and fuels, our common aspiration. Instead of feeling like we've been assigned to a committee we feel like we belong to a team.
I don't mind being a male cheerleader. For me the best part of getting people to pool their resources is that the resulting synergy ensures the wisdom of the whole is greater than the sum of its individual smarts. Similarly, when we get to tap into our attention assets and play to our strengths, we enjoy contributing. (Hey, it's hard not to feel good about yourself, when you're sharing something you're good at!) The end result is a joyful shift from being obliged to make a donation to feeling inspired to give a "fun"dation.
Stone Soup Memorial Council
1:30pm, following the regularly scheduled Café
All Souls Parish Hall (where the Café is held every week)
An adaptation of the usual Stone Soup council practice to remember those in our lives who have passed. The council will be officiated by Ari Pliskin and led by Petriana Monize. Please bring items for the altar that are sacred or that remind you of those you've lost. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like to be involved in the service.
Memorial Service for Rebeccca Streeter
All Souls Sanctuary
Our Nation’s Celebration of Birth Reminds us all to cherish our Nation and its Earth
So with much Patriotism and a little Mirth
We’ll serve BBQ & garden’s bounty for all its worth!
Italian Wedding Soup – Contains Meat & Gluten
Mixed Garden Greens with House-made Dressing – Vegan & Gluten Free
Roasted Potato Salad – Contains Dairy – Gluten Free
Sweet and Sour Slaw – Mixture of Veggies and Pineapple give this slaw it’s flavor – Vegan & Gluten Free
Sautéed Vegetable Medley with Fresh Garlic Scapes – Vegan & Gluten Free
Honey Onion BBQ Tempeh – Vegan & Gluten Free – Contains Soy
Honey Onion BBQ Chicken – Gluten Free
Pear Crisp with Fresh Whipped Cream – Contains Dairy – Gluten Free
Special thanks for the delicious pears and pineapple goes to Laughing Dog Farms’ Danny Botkin. Also, many thanks to Farmer Dave and the whole team at Just Roots for the fantastic bounty of veggies and greens.
On July/1, the Medical Examiner announced that Rebecca Streeter, who was a regular volunteer at the Stone Soup Café and has been missing since February, was the person whose body was recovered from the river the previous week.
We wanted to take a minute to remember her lovely presence at the Cafe. Becca J, which is what we called her, usually worked on the morning set-up shift. She was a regular, coming each week, and usually bubbly, cracking jokes with whoever else was working the shift with her. She was especially fond of setting up the drink station and was an excellent trainer for new volunteers to learn the process. She was always willing to pitch in and help, regardless of the task.
It was very evident she loved her family. Her grandson was the "apple of her eye." It was also very evident she felt remorse over past shortcomings when they were connected to others that she loved. There was nothing half-way about Becca J. She felt emotions strongly and seemed to experience others pain acutely too.
It's hard to wrap one's head around the fact that we will not see her in this life again. I hope her spirit is at peace and if she can find the time, that she drops in at the Cafe and checks up on us once in awhile.
The Stone Soup Café will dedicate our council circle on July/26 to remembering Becca J and others community members who have been lost. Please join us and please consider donating to a the fund below set up by Becca's family to cover her funeral costs.