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Potluck in Guelph

Submitted by Oldmaninwoods on October 29, 2012 - 4:36pm


On Sunday, September 23rd, my friend Derek  invited me to a potluck dinner arranged by a group of primarily middle-aged Guelph residents interested in local social and environmental affairs.  When we arrived, the group of diverse and spirited personalities were spread out on the floor like in a game of Twister, examining various sticky notes with words or expressions on them.  With a large and inviting smile, Cynthia greeted us and handed us each 5 small purple stickers and told us to search through the hundred or so sticky notes, placing our sticker on the ones that were particularly appealing.  I got down on all fours and and crawled over the assortment, realizing that the notes were arranged into 5 different themes for what attributes of a community a person values most . The categories included art, greenery, healthy local food, and others.

After placing my stickers on the attributes that describe what I value most in a community – such as green space, locally produced and sold food, and public art, we then proceeded to tally up and identify the things that this particular group of people valued most. Quiet space, greenery, and locally produced food all ranked high on the list. I then realized that these people had an extraordinary zest for matters of social justice and that each one had a unique approach to delivering on their individual moral responsibilities to their community members as well as the environment.

Throughout the evening I was able to speak to many of the individuals present. I was astounded at the extent to which each one had taken issues of equality and environmental justice to heart. One woman told me about how she had weaned herself off reliance on foreign food by raising enough animals and growing enough produce on her own property to supply her and her family year round. Another told me what measures she had taken to reduce dependence on conventional sources of energy by using natural energy sources for her house and transportation.

Overall the experience was enlightening. While the group has stark disagreements about the national and provincial policies being implemented by our government, they were proactive enough to adjust their lifestyles so as to assure that their net effect on Canadian society was positive. The experience has made me more aware of the societal and political ramifications of my everyday activities, and made me hopeful that humans will collectively be able to address our looming societal and environmental problems.






Great learning!

Hi James,

Thanks so much for sharing- I love the way you came to discuss these ideas- what a fun/tangible way to identify the key values/interests of the group!

Was there anything that surprised you about your discussions?

It sounds like the people you encountered are really living-out the values discussed--- have you changed the way you approach (green space/food/etc.) since hearing their practical ideas?