“So many fail because they don’t get started – they don’t go. They don’t overcome inertia. They don’t begin.” -W. Clement Stone
Starting things is hard. It explains why so many great ideas go unrealized. To begin, you have to become comfortable with the discomfort of the unknown, to embrace the truth that even the best laid plans often don’t hold up to the uncertainty and chaos that accompanies the process of making a start. Relationships are especially fragile in the space of beginning and often the people you believe would be beside you at every step fall away and people you may not have even known come forward to guide you at moments when everything seems lost. Likewise, the process of identifying roles and assigning responsibilities takes both patience and flexibility. The beginning offers a clean slate on learning how to relate, and the leadership that emerges from striking a delicate balance of direction and freedom is both inspired and inspiring.
The idea of Positive Community Cures (PCC) began for me with the Positive Change Club that I have been working on for the last three years at South Eugene High School. Our student club’s mission was to create a lasting positivity memorial after the tragic deaths of two classmates in 2011. The purpose of the club activities were to celebrate and illuminate the positive spirit of all the kids. Over the years we did a lot of heavy lifting, moving a wheelbarrow at a time, thousands of tons of cement and gravel. At all our meetings and work days I would feed the club members homemade soups, breads, and endless amounts of watermelon, and I came to understand how food bonds a community. The teens didn’t just come for the food, but sharing the food made us family. At the same time, I began teaching cancer patients about the healing power of intimacy in their lives. These projects merged when I met a local naturopathic oncologist who confirmed for me the wide range of support services that were lacking for cancer patients and their families. She introduced me to The Ceres Project in Northern California and we immediately saw the huge potential of bringing a version of this project to the Eugene/Springfield area.
Having a model of success for a new project is priceless and we couldn’t have asked for a better mentoring program than what we have received by being one of the first affiliates of The Ceres Project. They were inspired to share the shining success of their program founded on the rich development of hundreds of teen chefs, thousands of community volunteer hours, and the production and delivery of tens of tens of thousands of healing meals for cancer patients and their families. Over the 7 years of its growth, Ceres has become a hub of community building for their region, as well as an essential educational resource. Coming home from the training visit in Sonoma county, we were in equal measures breathless with anticipation and inspiration, as well as overwhelmed by the complexity of the process and size of the task. Over the last year, we have created the legal structure for the non-profit, filed for tax exempt status and built our own board made up of positive-minded, creative, and connected problem solvers. By October we had found a home for our first big donation, the 6 door refrigerator that once belonged to a luxury chocolatier in the Stellaria building’s community incubator kitchen in downtown Eugene.
As we approach the anniversary of our visit to Ceres, we have logged hundreds of hours of teen and adult volunteer time in the Positive Community Cures kitchen and we are producing over 100 healing meals for cancer patients and their families every week. Our proactive, hands-on board members are managing committee meetings for everything from kitchen planning to fundraising to volunteer coordination and the word is starting to spread. Every week we receive offers from people who want to participate and contribute. We have a dozen teen chefs in training who are learning not only the basics of creating healing foods but more importantly the difference they can make to help people heal from life threatening illness.
Being in the kitchen is a magical and joyful experience with teens and adults working together, side by side, to extend support and healing to people who need it most. Positive Community Cures is a replica of how communities used to work, in barn raisings and when people fell sick. Getting back to our roots of healing each other with food is in our genetic code. It is what makes us deeply human and it heals the chefs as much as it does those who are struggling to heal.
We invite you to begin with us. Call or email if you want to start some magic in your life. It will surprise you with the often unknown treasure of building loving community.