Wednesday, April 28, 2010

PopLab and Potluck

Bakery window

Bakery case
Here's where you go to buy the meat bread to take to a potluck lunch.  Vegetarians, fear not!  I also bought blueberries.

A few weekends ago, pepperoni and cheese "meat bread" in hand, I attended the inaugural PopLab event, held at Judson Memorial Church.  This was a (free) day-long interactive seminar or creative think-tank of sorts, in which participants explored our pasts, presents and futures in small groups -- through the lenses and intersections of faith, culture, politics, and activism.

Here is part of how the event was described by the founders:
Ever ask yourself why the progressive left doesn't do a better job at capturing America's political imagination?
Ever reflect on why life is so interesting and yet church can be so boring?

PopLab is the place for you. 
Join us Saturday, April 10th for a creative workshop/retreat.  Join us for socializing, discussion, brainstorming games, and food. (Yes, FOOD.)  Our primary agenda is a very laid back one: reconnecting, free-associating, and talking smack about the future, progressive politics, and making a scene in order to make a point.  Maybe there's a more interesting (or just more fun) way to develop our collective voice and build the kind of future we all dream of?

Also: it was always our intention to have this be the first meeting of an ongoing conversation, a kind of "artistic and political think-tank for populist theology," so if you can't make it on the 10th, but want to be in the loop on what grows out of this, please let us know.  And please feel free to email us with any questions, concerns, or ideas...
You see how "FOOD" is written in all caps in the text above?  That certainly captured my attention.  And, yeah, the rest of it was intriguing, too.  I made sure to attend.

This first event was themed loosely around the idea of "superheroes," and all that might imply/encompass.  Over the course of the event, we were asked to answer the following questions on paper and in person:
  • When was the first time you can remember being politically “activated,” (however you define this)? 
  • What was your earliest moment of insight (or inspiration) in regards to the spirit, God, or religion (for or against, however you define this)? 
  • What was the first time you can remember being truly moved by a work of art?  Could be a book, play, song, or painting, but what was it? 
  • Name one superhero you have personally known.  Imagine what his/her icon might be.
  • Where are you most “hooked” politically?  What are the issues that motivate you?  Wherever possible, push yourself to ask “what am I for?” 
  • What are your spiritual values (however you define that), and how do they manifest themselves (or not manifest themselves) in your life today? 
  • Give an example of artistic expression that truly moves you today.  This could be a song that’s stuck in your head, a movie you saw, or something you are creating yourself. 
  • What is the greatest living super villain of our times?  And what might his/her icon be?
  • What next step do you see yourself taking to actualize your ideal political future? 
  • What action do you see yourself taking in your ongoing spiritual evolution? 
  • What creative endeavor are looking forward to most?  Is it yours?  Is it someone else’s? 
  • Describe what kind of super hero you’ll be, along with one element of your costume.

Have any answers in mind?  Much discussion ensued, to say the least.  At the end of it all, I found the day challenging, exciting, fascinating, inspiring, and delicious.  And just what was so delicious? Why, that aforementioned FOOD.  We enjoyed a buffet breakfast and outrageous potluck lunch.  Take a gander:

PopLab breakfast
A welcoming breakfast table.  I committed one misstep and drowned my blueberry green tea bag (brought from home) in coffee.  I thought it was a hot water urn!  Strange as it might seem, I sometimes forget people drink coffee.

Breakfast again
What to do when your breakfast clashes with your pants?  Eat quickly.  Also, I think it was Suresh who found the sea salt in the kitchen closet.  A thousand blessings upon him!  A little salt makes tomato slices so much more divine.

Spread
Incredibly incredible potluck spread.  Ah, deviled eggs.  How you bedevil me.

Meat bread
Grainy phone photo spotlight on my meaty meat bread.

Plate
My delightful lunch.

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I'm looking forward to future soul-searching, stomach-filling installments of PopLab.  If you're in NYC and you'd like to know when the next one happens, just comment below.  I'll make sure you get all the details.

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2 comments:

*Michelle* said...

Uh, yum! I don't go to church, but that food might make me think twice!

"Populist theology"... "collective"? Better watch out, the Glen Beck brigade will be after you in no time!

Jennette said...

Thanks for commenting!

1. I don't think I could attend a church that didn't throw a good potluck.

2. If he thought us dangerous I'd be so flattered. ;)

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