Pacific Ocean, Alice Waters

I have to indulge once more and skip to today before revisiting the two to three days prior that are anxiously awaiting animation via post.

Than and I have arrived back to our beloved Western Coast, and our lateral motion has culminated in a remarkably serendipitous meeting with none other than culinary pioneer Alice Waters.

We have arrived in Claremont, just outside of LA, where we are staying with our mutual friend from camp, the lovely, bubbly, looks like Natalie Portman from V for Vendetta, Abby. As we have been making our way back towards the blue stretches of the Pacific, Abby informed us that Scripps college would be hosting Alice Waters for an evening leadership lecture right around the corner from her house.

It’s as if all the bottled up, serendipitous energy of the Hummingbird community tonight was uncorked. Our day was spent practicing acro-yoga up against the beautiful back drop of Joshua Tree National Park, and all that just after an evening spent relaxing at a hot spring and spa in Desert Hot Springs with Than’s good friend and aspiring shaman, Jen. The scenery as we climbed and played in Joshua Tree had us all feeling on top of another world. Observing our unabashed antics, at one point, a gentleman wearing a sweater from Ecaudor (keenly identified by Than, who had studied abroad there) came over and informed us that it looked like what we were doing was “awesome”. You be the judge – check the photos below.

Acro Backbend
Than and Jen by the Joshua Tree

Elbows Up

Half handstand at Joshua Tree
In just one day, to go from acro-yoga in Joshua Tree to hearing from and speaking with Alice Waters – I feel as if the energy and excitement in me is about to leap outwards and flip the circuit breakers in Abby’s house (Than and I also had a few moments to jam prior to departing for the lecture, and we threw down a really remarkable impromptu song – music always puts me in a powerful state).

Alice Waters was lovely to listen to. In particular, as a former Yalie, I was drawn in by what she had to say about the part she played in orchestrating the Yale Sustainable Food Program. She made it very clear that she wasn’t the sort of woman who took no for an answer, and the Yale Sustainable Food Program was the result of her quite literally walking directly up to the President of Yale College, and telling him that she wanted to help change how Yale did food. It took a passionate CFO and an excited student body to bring the project to fruition, but the moral of the story is that Alice very quickly cut through the majority of the morass that often slows progress at older academic institutions, and very quickly made a needed idea a wonderful reality.

Alice Waters

She spoke eloquently about the relationship of food and education, and I very much appreciated how down to earth she was throughout her speech. As a former Montessori teacher, she emphasized again and again the importance of a “felt” education – an education where students of all ages were pushed to touch, taste, and feel their way through learning, and to take responsibility for the world and communities around them. As she spoke, I couldn’t help but feel as if we all had been invited over to hear the story of her life, and to learn that we might go out and help plant more seeds in our own schools and communities.

Afterwards, Than and I looked at each other, and knew that we had to seize the opportunity to say hi. Amidst the many adoring fans who presented her with books for signing, Than and I strolled up in our too-oft worn road-trip clothes and long(ish) hair, and gave Alice a scrap of paper with our blog address hastily scribbled on it. As we introduced ourselves, rapidly explaining our trip and it’s culmination at an urban farming program in Berkeley, she listened graciously with a smile and a laugh, and told us that we should be in touch when we arrived to the Berkeley area. What a wonderful way to cap off our progression from East to West!

Alice Waters in closing

And still there is more to come as we make our way northwards towards more farms, communities, and our permaculture design course in Oregon on December 2. I promise to cover the past few days in the next few posts, and hope that not too too much will happen in the meantime, putting us further behind. Sadly – it looks like that won’t be the case đŸ˜‰

My love to you,

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