A group of female chefs and bakers in Portland have been busy baking cookies this week. Eleven thousand, five hundred and fifty cookies to be precise. The Cookie Grab was conceived as a way for women in Portland's culinary industry to come together and use the skills we have to contribute to our community.
Over the next couple days, 550 people will collect beautiful pink boxes filled with cookies from some of their favorite Portland restaurants and bakeries, and Planned Parenthood will get a $27,500 donation. Totally amazing. Hooray!
But there's more...I believe that this experience confirmed something for many of us (and by us I mean the cookie makers, cookie consumers, and all the other behind-the-scenes contributors like volunteers who collected/packed/distributed cookies, designed posters, organized a gaggle of busy women, etc.), we now know for certain that it's true: we are the ones we've been waiting for.
Telling people about the project before it even happened, I could not help but notice that almost everyone I talked to wanted to participate. The trend continued when the project went live, I got emails from regular customers asking if I needed any help making the cookies, asking if it was possible to contribute even though the cookies were sold out, asking if we planned to do it again. My point is this: people want to contribute, and many are struggling to find a way into the world of civic participation that makes sense to them.
I know that the urge to participate is exactly what led me to sign up for a class called 'A Moment of Possibility' offered by the Portland Underground Graduate School that described it's aim in this way:
"This class is designed to help you clear your mind and clarify your personal and political priorities and actions for 2017. It's meant to help you strategize, so you can act more effectively without being discouraged or overwhelmed. There are many paths to take to activate, but getting clear and sticking to your plan will help you be focused and effective."
The day before my first class, I got a text message from Sarah Minnick asking me if I would be willing to make 550 cookies for an epic bake sale in support of our local Planned Parenthood. Of course the timing could be a coincidence and yet, the act of saying yes--even though I've never made 550 of anything--was absolutely because I had recently committed to figuring out how to participate more actively in my community.
Given this spirit of participation we're feeling, if you have ideas you want to share with us about how we can help make our community stronger- please reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org).
One easy way to participate in your community this week...if you love a small business and you can safely get to it (online or in person), go spend some money there!