It was so good seeing so many of you last week as we got our full schedule under way for the semester. The GCW is a big, extended community, and we rely on you to keep doing the work we’ve committed to doing in service to and in solidarity with our friends and neighbors who are struggling because of poverty, homelessness, addiction, unemployment, mental illness and more. If you’re thinking about finding something you can commit to on a weekly or monthly basis, we hope you’ll consider helping out this semester as a regular volunteer here at the Green House–at Dorothy’s Cafe, the microfarm, Art for All, football game Saturdays, or one of our other projects. We could use your help!
So many cool things happening this week…
EXPERIENCING THE CAMINO: This past summer, GCW co-founder Kelli Brew walked the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage from western France across the north of Spain and ending in Santiago de Compostela. The Camino dates back to medieval times when pilgrims would walk to Santiago de Compostela to visit the tomb of St. James, apostle to Jesus. People walk the Camino for a variety of reasons. This Thursday, from 6:30-8pm, Kelli will share her experience at our first Roundtable of the semester, “Notes from the Camino.” Walking the Camino is a transformative and reflective experience, and Kelli will talk about her reasons for going on pilgrimage, share insights and stories gleaned from her 40 days walking the Camino, offer practical advice for people who may one day undertake it, and more. Join us and bring a dish to share if you can for the potluck dinner!
ARTISTS AND CRAFTERS UNITE! This Saturday, from 1-4pm, we’ll host our first Art for All workshop of the semester. Former house member Kendera Omanga, along with stalwart community members Mary Peer and Linda Gardner, are organizing the Art for All workshops every other Saturday through November. Art for All is part art therapy, part cottage industry (folks needing to earn a little money who want to sell their artwork or crafts through our in-house boutique are welcome to do so) and simply creative and fun for all who participate. Local artists will be on hand to teach or advise participants as needed. Everyone is welcome to come!
REMEMBERING A FRIEND AND SUPPORTER: The GCW continues to live and grow because of the generosity of so many–not only those who live close by but from friends and supporters all across the U.S. Last week, we learned that one of our most generous and encouraging supporters, Herb Bazur, had passed away at age 88. Herb, along with his wife Betty, supported our work from afar for many years (they lived in Michigan during the summer and winter in Central Florida, and recently relocated permanently to Ft. Wayne, Indiana). John wrote a short post on Herb on the site here for folks who want to know more about him and what he meant to our community and to John personally. Herb is survived by his wife Betty; please keep her and his entire family in your prayers. Herb was a sweet, sweet man and we will miss him something fierce.
ODDS AND ENDS: No Green House Knitters on Labor Day Monday this week. The Knitters will start back up next Monday … Jade says that he can use some extra help at the microfarm on Thursday mornings, whatever time you can spare, but he’s also open to folks helping out on Tuesday mornings if that fits your schedule better. See the project page for how to get in touch with Jade and get directions to the microfarm … And our new brochure is now available! Hard copies can be found at the house and a PDF is online and can be found by clicking here. The brochure includes our schedule for the semester, contact info, project descriptions and more.
Hope to see you this week at the GCW!
“You are dust, and to dust you will return.” Who wants to really face this reality? Apparently, many of us since Ash Wednesday services are some of the most crowded of the year. It is a beautifully human ritual – feeding our deep need for meaning and purpose, as well as our desire for community. Standing in line for ashes, we wait to hear those solemn words directed at us personally, and we hear them in the company of others. We are all in this together.
Today – and every Wednesday – we at the Green House offer a free Café to folks who are hungry and homeless. We strive to create a very healthy meal made of mostly vegetables given to us by generous farmers in our area. Today we will dress up the lentil soup with fresh tomato salsa, and the rutabaga fries with homemade ranch dressing. We will pick lettuce from our garden. There will be fresh bread. All of this bounty spills over from the generosity of our community, created in a joyful, hurried kitchen full of people choosing to spend their Wednesday morning this way.
Some of those in the dining room will be experiencing the flip side of this. Many of them are unemployed, but have spent the morning waiting at the labor pools for work that didn’t come. Some are addicts and alcoholics who fell into addiction trying to cope with serious trauma. Some struggle with mental illness or physical infirmity. People come because they’re hungry, and they come for the company, and sometimes they come just to get a break from the cold or the heat or the rain. They are not necessarily experiencing “abundance” in their day-to-day life, and we try our best to help them experience a little here at the house – with second and third helpings and a plate to go.
Yet this sharing, in itself, is not necessarily compassionate. Compassion – to feel with – is not created in a “have and have-not” world, even in our own home. We can easily fall into pity, and charity. We can see ourselves “as blessed,” and serving the “less fortunate.” We can even believe as some have described it, that we are blessing them. And then, one hopes, we can begin to see the truth in St. Vincent de Paul’s warning that the poor have to forgive us for the bread we give them.
They have to forgive us because It belongs to them already. It comes from the earth’s abundance – “fruit of the vine.” We “volunteers” may have jobs our culture deems important and hidden addictions and illnesses and losses that we are not forced to air in public. But we, the ones holding the soup pot today, are no less dust than those who come with empty bowls. The ashes of the first day of Lent are a reminder that we are here together for just a little while, that we are all lowly and in need of grace and love. We are to share. What does not happen in this world of Haves and Have-Nots, we are to bring about in the Kingdom of God – for the little time we are here together.
Listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Speaking of Faith, while taking a long walk yesterday morning, I was struck again by how coherent the voices are if we have the ears for them. Ellen Davis, professor of “Bible and Practical Theology at Duke University, talks about the theological underpinnings of caring for the land. She recalls the repetition of the phrase “God saw that it was good” as creation unfolded and said it could be translated as “God saw how beautiful it was.” Embedded in the interview are recordings of Wendell Berry reading his poetry in that slow, careful manner poetry must be read. The poet’s voice, and the word arrangement on the page, are created things – things that taketheir time and must be taken in slowly to actually receive them. Davis remarks that Wendell Berry has said himself that “poetry cannot be read in distraction” and that whatever slows us down must be valued “and maybe is a gift and even a calling from God.”
Don’t all wise people say something like this? That we must be present to the place we are in order to remember the place we hold in the order of things?
This will be the last email you get from us until we restart things in early August following our “summer sabbath.” But we did have a few loose ends to tie up:
ASKING FOR YOUR FEEDBACK: Part of what we do during our “summer sabbath” is reflect and evaluate the year just past, and start planning for the next year. As we do this reflecting, evaluating and planning, we would love to hear some feedback from all of you who are part of the GCW community. So, we’d like to ask: Why are you part of the GCW community? Why do you come to the house? What is it about the GCW that most resonates or speaks to you and keeps you coming back? If you’d like to weigh in, we’d love to hear from you. Join the discussion thread on our Facebook page or look for the post, FEEDBACK, just below this one on the GCW blog and leave your feedback as a comment. Thanks!
GOOD LUCK PATRICK: Patrick, who has been such an instrumental member of our community for the past one-and-a-half years, will be leaving us later this week to 1) get married to Catherine in late July, and then 2) start a MA program at the University of Dayton in Ohio in August. For anyone who has been at the house over the past year especially, you know all about everything that Patrick brings to the GCW. His friendliness, work ethic, compassion and general goofiness will be sorely missed. Thanks Patrick, and good luck to you and Catherine!
KEEP UP WITH US ON FACEBOOK AND THE WEBSITE: While we won’t be sending emails out to the list over the summer, we will be making some regular posts (and uploading photos, and whatnot) to our Facebook page, Kelli’s blog and the GCW blog. If you haven’t joined our Facebook group, we’d love to have you. On Kelli’s blog, you’ll read about how we’re learning to “live more locally,” with recent posts about Gainesville’s free bike project, recipes using local food, and neighborliness and hospitality. And given the chance to write some this summer, I hope to post some scripture reflections, any house news and so on on the GCW blog as well. Comments and feedback are encouraged!
MAKING ENDS MEET: Finally, we’d like to thank everyone for their generosity in helping us to make ends meet throughout the year. No one at the GCW is paid. We are not a social service agency, nor do we have tax exempt status. We do not receive any monies from the government or foundations. The folks who live in the house contribute to a common purse, from which we pay our bills and secure what we need to help the folks who frequent our home. But we cannot do it alone. So many of you do what you can to help us make ends meet and keep this work going. For that, we are always grateful. For anyone who would like to help us in supporting the work of the GCW–about 4575 breakfasts to day laborers thru Breakfast Brigade; 5130 meals at Dorothy’s Cafe; and overnight hospitality to 30 different guests, a total of 456 days (for an average of about 15 days per each guest)–you can send checks made out to the GCW to 218 NW 2nd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601. Thanks again for your kindness.
Have a great summer and we’ll see you in August!
For this week’s schedule please click here.
Johnny and Patrick were at a Pax Christi meeting in Pennsylvania most of the week, but the rest of us kept the home-fire burning, the garden watered and weeded, and the meals coming. A big thank you to the Servants of Christ for their delicious Pasta Fagioli and to the DEI fraternity for their help in the kitchen during Sunday’s cafe.
Many of you have read about the recent changes at St. Francis House, our city’s homeless shelter, in response to complaints about the growing number being served lunch. Some of our thoughts and experience are related in Kelli’s letter to the Sun which appeared last Sunday.
This week is, and there will be a few changes to our regular schedule.
Blue House Pants: ; New pants out of old things – “locally sewn;” If you’ve got some sewing experience, come help us churn out a few more pairs in anticipation of selling them at an upcoming diocesan conference.
NO THURSDAY ROUNDTABLE – It’s
Way of the Cross: Friday, 12 noon – 2pm: This is an ancient tradition of the church. Meet at the House, and then join us as we make our way through downtown Gainesville and reflect on how Christ continues to be crucified among us in the poor and marginalized in our community.
Gainesville Catholic Worker
Change is afoot at the GCW as we incorporate lessons learned from our schedule experients in August and September. Here is what you need to know about changes to our schedule and information for “This Week at the GCW:”
SUNDAY DOROTHY’S CAFE IS BACK: We experimented this fall with a cafe schedule that would allow us to experience Sunday as our Sabbath day each week, but due to financial difficulties and to the number of volunteers who shared with us that weekends were really the only times they could join us, we have re-instituted Dorothy’s Cafe on the first and third Sundays of each month. We’ve eliminated Thursday as a cafe day, we’ll continue to do the cafe every Tuesday, and we’ve added in the first and third Sundays as cafe days too. One of the problems with doing Tuesday and Thursday was that we were needing to prepare all of the soup ourselves at the house, and because we were not gleaning from the farmer’s market (not harvest season), the cost of preparing 200-plus servings of soup twice-a-week was taking a toll on our finances. Sunday’s cafe will help there as we look for individuals and groups to help “sponsor” the cafe, much the same way we did it last year. So if your group or organization or church wants to sponsor an upcoming cafe (from now thru June 09), let us know; we would be grateful to have you. Sponsoring means providing the soup and fruit for the cafe, as well as volunteers. For weeks when we don’t have a sponsoring organization, we’ll put out the call for individuals to prepare and drop off soup at the GCW.
Our first Sunday cafe will be this Sunday, October 19th. Since we don’t have a sponsor group, we’ll need help preparing soup. Here’s the menu: 200 servings of vegetarian chili, fresh fruit (persimmons are in season) and homemade bread (GCW will bake the bread). If you can help us out with gifts of homemade chili and fruit, please let us know. You can email us and let us know what you plan to bring and how many servings; please have it to the GCW by 12:45pm since we have moved up our start time for the cafe to 1pm on Sundays. Here’s a link to a good recipe for vegetarian chili: https://gvillecw.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/simple-vegetarian-chili-recipe-for-sundays-cafe/.
We’ll also need plenty of volunteers, especially this Sunday because Kelli and John will be gone. Volunteers would be needed for prep and set-up between 12-1pm, serving between 1-6pm, and clean-up between 5-7pm. The longer serving hours keep the timeframe similar to what we’re doing on Tuesdays (so as not to confuse our guests) and also makes for a more relaxed setting, with the same number of people coming to eat over a longer period of time. So please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can come and whether you can bring chili and/or fruit.
OUR NEW COMMUNITY GARDEN STARTS THIS WEDNESDAY! This Wednesday, we’ll start a new community garden at the Rosa B. Williams/Union Academy Community Center in our neighborhood, Pleasant Street. We’ll work with the kids in the afterschool program at Rosa B to start an organic garden where they’ll learn about science and grow vegetables they can share with their families and at our cafe. If you’d like to work with kids and you’d like to learn to garden (or already love gardening), you can volunteer with us between 2:30-4:30pm at Rosa B on Wednesdays. The center is located at the corner of NW 2nd Street and NW 6th Avenue (caddy corner to the first labor pool stop for the Breakfast Brigade). Let us know if you can volunteer by dropping us an email.
WORLD FOOD DAY AND KELLI BREW AT THIS WEEK’S ROUNDTABLE: This Thursday, which is World Food Day, Kelli will lead the Roundtable in a discussion on food security issues, sustainability, bio-regionalism, hunger, community gardens, and more. She’ll share from her experience working for a food security organization, talk about ways we can cultivate more sustainable growing and eating practices and habits, and share some about the GCW’s particular approach to food. Kelli writes a blog that incorporates some of these themes, Our Local Life: What We Need is Here, as well as recipes for local foods, gardening, info on what’s at the farmer’s market, and more. Join us Thursday at 6pm at the RT; bring a dish to share if you can, or just show up!
For more information about what is happening this week and a look at our schedule incorporating the cafe changes, gardening and more, please click here.
GCW NEWSLETTER IS NOW AVAILABLE: We have just printed our latest newsletter, and we would love to share a hard-copy of it with you. Please send us your regular postal address and we’ll add you to our database and get a copy out to you this week. Next week, we’ll include a link to the electronic copy of the newsletter in this email and from the web site.
THANKS TO ALL WHO JOINED US FOR THE ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION! Thanks to everyone who was able to join us last Sunday, October 5th, to celebrate the anniversary of the GCW with us. It was a wonderful day and we’re especially thankful to Servants of Christ Church for the incredible food and a group of folks from St. Luke’s in Middleburg who took over the bulk of the clean-up throughout the day. We all enjoyed the great food, music, and company! Thanks to all of you for your support of our work, for being part of our community and making the GCW possible. We can not say how grateful and blessed we feel.
John and all at the GCW