Saturday, January 31, 2015

Journey of the Bowls

Thank you to all of our guests and volunteers for an incredible Empty Bowls Dinner last evening.  We'll have many photos posted along with details about the numbers within a few days, as soon as we've had a bit of sleep!  In the meantime, you might enjoy reading the following text of Liz Egan's remarks from the dinner.  Thanks again--

Good evening.  My name is Liz Egan. I am the Art Teacher here at Westbrook Middle School and a member of the Empty Bowls Committee.  Welcome.

In the past 5 months these bowls, and we, as a community, have been joined in a journey. This journey touched our lives and our hearts. Through service and education, creativity and joy, together, we have become focused on one unified goal – Hunger Relief.

The journey of the bowls you are eating from this evening began back in August of 2014, when we looked at different bowl designs and settled on purchasing 240 bowls.

At the time, we said, “Wow! That’s a lot of bowls! and thought, “Well, we can always use the leftovers next year.”  Little did we would wind up ordering many more and that over 360 bowls would be glazed before the end of the project!

Our journey of bowl glazing began with students.  Our first glazing session was very simple – a group of Art Club students and friends met on a typical Tuesday after school in late September.   We started that session, as we would every session with a focus on the PURPOSE of the project, and the contribution each of us would make through our shared creativity.

Originally, we planned 4 Glazing Sessions:  Art Club, Faculty/Staff, Family Night, and a PTO Glazing Session.  At each session our momentum grew as well as attendance and participation.

It was time for the bowls to travel outside the classroom and into the community.  Our “road show” included sessions at the Library, the Senior Center, and Daisy Ingraham School.  In addition the women’s ministry at my church donated the bowls they glazed as a service activity while on retreat, and there were a few more mini-sessions in between. 
The creative energy and spirited enthusiasm were amazing throughout this project.  Students, parents, staff, friends, and relatives, some that even doubted their creative ability, were filled with the joy that togetherness coupled with creative activity can bring.

At this point it dawned on me, and on my Glazing Co-Chair Melissa Ryan, that getting the bowls clear glazed and fired was going to be an undertaking in and of itself.  Students to the rescue!  Thank you so much to all my classes, for your tireless efforts clear glazing one bowl after another after another.

The journey of the bowls, when we ordered them in the heat of the summer to when we eat out of them on this cold winter night –through glazing, and clear glazing ; firing, glazing, and firing again; to photos and cataloging; to washing and storage; labeling and storage again – these bowls have traveled a long way.  Many hands and many hearts have touched them, both physically and spiritually. This is the real beauty that each one of these bowls possesses.

Hopefully the journey until today will be a first step.  As you take your bowl home, let it serve as a reminder of the Empty Bowls still left in our community.  Let it also remind you of what is possible when we all work together.

As I have reflected on the process of the last 5 months, the way I have grown, and how the process has grown, I am grateful.  Grateful to have worked with such a wonderful community of people – children, parents, staff, neighbors, friends, and relatives – to watch as they realized their creative ability, applied it onto a bowl, and came together for a common goal, Hunger Relief.

In the end, for me, these bowls became a symbol.  A symbol of the Westbrook community’s willingness – to serve, to care, to unite as one family.  In short, the bowls became a symbol of our commitment to support each other. Thank you all.  Have a great evening.

--remarks by Liz Egan, 29 January 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"The Great Tablecloth"

So... I was rummaging through some notes the other day and I came across a piece of paper from last September with two things written on it.  The first was a reminder to myself:  "Order bowls."  The second was a quote by the poet Pablo Neruda that said, "For now I ask no more than the justice of eating."

As we get ready for our community dinner tonight, let's be proud of the work we've done so far, but let's keep foremost in our minds and hearts the spirit of Neruda's words.  The Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries and End Hunger Connecticut live by those words daily as they feed members of our community and work for justice through legislation about food access and nutrition.  After tonight, let's consider how we can continue to learn about and address the needs of our community and the larger world.

Here's an English translation of the last part of Neruda's poem.   See you tonight!

Hunger feels like pincers,
like the bite of crabs,
it burns, burns and has no fire:
Hunger is a cold fire.
Let us sit down soon to eat
with all those who haven’t eaten;
let us spread great tablecloths,
put salt in the lakes of the world,
set up planetary bakeries,
tables with strawberries in snow,
and a plate like the moon itself
from which we can all eat.

For now I ask no more
than the justice of eating.

from Pablo Neruda, "The Great Tablecloth," 1958 (trans. Alastair Reid)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Date Change for Dinner

Due to the snowstorm, the Empty Bowls Dinner (now sold out) will be postponed for one day.  Our new date is this Thursday, January 29th, from 5-8 pm.  We hope that by then the roads will be clear and you'll be ready to enjoy a bowl of warm soup and conversation with friends.  Be safe and we'll see you Thursday!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Preparing (Part 3)

Only 4 days until the Empty Bowls Dinner!  Here's some more inspiration-- Rodney Abbott's tech woodworking students have made beautiful bread trays for the dinner.  Check out their work in the photo below, and look for the trays on your tables this Wednesday.  Many thanks to the talented craftspeople who made these trays!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Preparing for the Empty Bowls Dinner (Part 2)

Thank you to the Empty Bowls Committee for their work preparing for the Empty Bowls Dinner.  As you can see from these photos, no job is too big or too small for committee members--students, teachers, parents, staff members--as they iron, lift, color, catalog, wash, and design their way toward next Wednesday's event.  Only 6 days left!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Empty Bowls Dinner is Sold Out!

Thank you to everyone in the Westbrook and greater shoreline community for supporting the Empty Bowls Project!   As of this morning, the WMS Empty Bowls Project Soup Dinner is sold out!  Over 260 guests are expected at our dinner next Wednesday evening at Westbrook Middle School.  Thank you from the Empty Bowls Committee for your generous support.  We are busy preparing for the dinner, and hope you will continue to check this blog to follow our progress.  And please remember to learn more about End Hunger Connecticut and the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries.  Remember also to support the businesses (on our sponsor page) who have contributed food, beverages, and supplies for the dinner.  Thank you!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Preparing for the Empty Bowls Dinner (Part 1)

Many thanks to Linda LaBrec and her students in Family and Consumer Science who have helped us  by making centerpieces for our dinner, wrapping and tying utensils, and designing posters to thank our sponsors.  We appreciate all of their creative work to help us prepare for the dinner on January 28th.  Thank you!