Tuesday, February 12, 2008

title float

Tonight I received an email from Echoing Green . According to their website "Since 1987, Echoing Green has provided seed funding and support to nearly 450 social entrepreneurs with bold ideas for social change in order to launch groundbreaking organizations around the world." This email informed me I had been nominated as a participant in a leadership training session in New Orleans. Among the many skills I am promised to pick up at this session is the ability to "Transform enemies into allies, hatred into goodwill, and conflict into collaboration". Wow. I barely transform my laundry into clean, folded clothes. I wonder what kind of facility I'll have with transforming hatred....But really, though I am poking fun at the enemies part, I am heartened to know that Liz (that's who reccomended me) thinks that I am a "compelling, emerging leader in the New Orleans community." And as my composition students might say "It made me think."

It made me think, or rather reminded me, that this work that I am doing:writing summaries of rice production in Louisiana, figuring out how to create a paper mache ox to pull a plow that has been donated to us, creating collages of menus we have collected over time and giving lectures about the Menu Project, pestering people for money and artifact donations, talking with food anthropologists on the phone for over an hour about flour distribution west of the Atchafalaya Basin prior to railroads, and asking my mom and step-father to be on call to help paint our space if necessary...all of these individual tasks, some silly, some tiresome, some fascinating are small pieces in this giant tinker toy of an institution that Liz and I have been assembling stick by stick and now it's finally starting to look like a building.

I have always know that this institution will draw people's attention to the city, put New Orleans in the news in a positive way, encourage people to come here and visit and spend their money and go home and tell people what a great time they had and what all they learned about Southern food. And as a lover of this city, these are important attributes. But I am finally learning to look past that into the future, long after my ashes are scattered into the Mississippi River following the St Anne parade on Mardi Gras Day (FYI that's how I wanna go). I am helping to create something that will preserve, protect and sustain a crucial part of this country's culture, history, and soul. I see so clearly how this will go on and on. It's way too cool to fizzle out and die, even after Liz and I are no longer there as its main cheerleaders. I am making something that will do greater work than I could ever do in my lifetime. How cool is that? I feel like Gandhi. Except for the vegetarian part. And the fasting part. And taking on the British Empire. And getting assasinated, okay, maybe not like Gandhi at all. But still, very, very pleased and proud.

In the meantime, I'll go learn how to transform my enemies into friends. Hey, like Gandhi!
As to being an emerging, compelling leader? I'll get back to you on that. Gotta go do some laundry first...