A Feast of Fusion: Uptown Summer 2016 and a Puerto Rican Hawaiian Luau

At the Sanctuary for Independent Media, Tuesdays are the first day of a work week of Uptown Summer’s environmental stewardship and neighborhood storytelling activities. Today in particular brought with it a special newness, as it was the first day of our Spanish in the Garden workshop, which will continue on Tuesdays through the rest of Uptown Summer.

Our youth employees, volunteers, and community members mingled together in the Collard City Growers garden, fostering a greater connection to the garden in personal ways. We spent the morning in movement, a fusion of weeding and painting signs to label vegetables and learning how to care for our chickens and cooking in the garden.

This fusion continued in the food we shared today. We spent the morning cooking in the garden, making corn tortillas with Ellie Markovitch that hid kale and green veggies in the composition of their warm, flattened circles. Neighbors Felipe and Katherine taught us how to make sofrito, a Puerto Rican seasoning, by blending tomatoes, cilantro, and other ingredients on a table set to overlook the chicken coop.

Our friend and garden mentor Azuré and her mother, who is visiting from Hawaii, made a traditional Hawaiian luau for us at lunch time, a meal filled with coconuts and and cabbage and fresh fruit. Many of the dishes were adapted to include produce that is grown in our gardens, teaching us the value of flexibility, of changing our plans to include the beauty and blessings of that which surrounds us. Before our meal, we learned the value of Aloha, the Hawaiian spirit of living, which is a mentality of unity, radical hospitality, patience, humility, and positivity.

In the afternoon, we turned our thoughts to storytelling by watching and critiquing the video haikus that were filmed and edited at the end of our first week. Branda spoke of camera work as choreography, likening the work of a filmmaker to that of a dancer or a gymnast.

Through this, we see poetry in the actions we have already undertaken and the potential for poetic truth in the stories we will be shaping and sharing in the coming weeks. We see the ways that serendipitous moments — whether in the films we have made or in the Spanish in the Garden workshop that we shared in the morning — make life all the more beautiful. It is in the beautiful fusing together of weeding with storytelling, of combining cuisines that are new to us with local ingredients, of Uptown Summer employees with neighbors from Troy and from further away, that spontaneity builds into community.

Listen to an audio story of our Hawaiian feast below:

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