Tag Archives: community

lasagna love.

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The Nonprofit Spreading Kindness One Lasagna at a Time: “We Have the Power to Shift Communities” 

Food is more than a simple snack or meal: It symbolizes comfort, connection, and care, and we’ve been using it to nurture social relationships since at least the Bronze Age. So when Rhiannon Menn found herself yearning to make an impact as the COVID-19 pandemic caused layoffs, school closures, and illnesses, she started cooking.

“I just thought, well, what do I love to do? And what do I know how to do? And for me, that’s cooking; it’s my happy place,” the mother of three told Nice News. In March of 2020, Menn began making extra pans of lasagna, then got on Facebook, found a few “mom groups” in the San Diego area, and offered to drop them off to anyone in need. She delivered seven meals her first week and quickly began getting messages from other people inspired to help. “All of a sudden I found myself managing this network of amazing volunteers who all wanted to feed people in their community,” Menn said.

Just over two years later, Lasagna Love has become a registered nonprofit with over 35,000 volunteers — or “Lasagna Chefs” as they are called — in all 50 states, as well as Canada and Australia. Altogether, they’ve delivered more than 250,000 lasagnas, feeding over one million people in total. The organization has been featured on Good Morning America and The Kelly Clarkson Show. And Menn believes it’s all a testament to how many people are looking for an outlet to show kindness and help others.

Lasagna chefs are matched with families based on distance and dietary restrictions. Once a match is made, all communication occurs directly between those two people. “We do feed families, and that’s important, but really what we’re doing is spreading kindness and strengthening communities, and it’s through those one-on-one bonds that it moves the needle on connectedness,” said Menn.

And there are no eligibility requirements to request a meal or nominate a family. One of the nonprofit’s core values is zero judgment. “We can’t say what needing help looks like,” Menn said, “only you, as a recipient, know what it means to need help”

Virginia resident Jan Delucien, who experienced a traumatic brain injury that left her unable to work, requested a lasagna after hearing about the organization in a support group. For the 64-year-old, the smiling volunteer handing her a home-cooked dish at her door meant much more than just a free meal. “It really was a gift of love,” Delucien told the AP through tears.

According to Menn, when asked if they felt inspired to pay the act of kindness forward, 97% of Lasagna Love meal recipients said they did, and a quarter responded that they already had. “I deliver a lasagna to you, and then you’re inspired to go donate a bag of clothes, or maybe share the meal with somebody, or maybe volunteer at the local animal shelter. So, all of a sudden, those million people that were fed — how many acts does that actually result in? And that’s where we have the power to really shift communities,” she said.

The founder hopes that one day the world won’t need Lasagna Love anymore and that people will help each other entirely organically. But until then, Menn and her team will keep spreading kindness one lasagna at a time.

“no matter what you’re going through in life, eat first.”

-wordporn

 

credit: rebecca brandes

life with shopping carts.

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in talking with my grandson

about the reason shopping carts are found all over

i told him to think about where he sees them and why that might be

i told him to consider the fact that they are often found

where there are people without transportation or without disposable income

who may have to walk a long distance, have a disability, or take public transportation to get home

most with challenging life circumstances

i told him about

when i moved to family housing here for grad school

with no money, but still one of my favorite times of my life

everyone in debt, in grad school, with families, with limited income

most did not have cars and could not afford taxis

i saw that shopping carts were all around us

 quickly noticed why.

families used them for everything

to move in and out, to move their children, to move their laundry to the common area

to move things to our monthly swap meets, to carry food, to carry things to their car, and on and on…

my youngest daughter lived with me

for a few months before heading off to her university

before long, we were using them

they had come from the local grocery store

 when people would walk home with food for their families

the carts would stay to be used in the community

the grocery store would send a truck once a week

to round them up and take them back to the store

and the next week they would be back

it seemed to be an unwritten understanding

i came to love the custom and used them many times for every imaginable purpose

 understanding why they were so helpful and important to the community.

everyone was just trying to find a way to live their life

to get things done that needed doing

while making the best of their circumstances.

“do what you can with what you have, where you are.”

-theodore ‘teddy’ roosevelt – 26th president of the united states

“those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”-jmb

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a call came from a director

who had worked with my grandson

on an entertainment project

he and his crew were in town

to shoot a pilot for a new show

the idea is to surprise someone

but instead of pranking them

it’s focus is on thanking them

he was looking for locals to help with the show

those who know ‘afternoon delight’

a local breakfast/lunch spot

not fancy, with great food

an unchanged part of this town for many years

the surprise was to be for walter

a local, humble, and very deserving gentleman

who has worked there for 40+ years and refuses to retire

he lives without a phone

(the farmers at the market let him use theirs when he needs one)

he lives without a car

(the local pedi-cab guy gives him rides to work and whenever he needs one)

he’s never been on a plane or boat

he lives alone with his many plants

his family is the restaurant crew and all who pass through the doors

he shows up every single day, works hard, and is unfailingly kind to everyone

but his presence is so much more than that

he has touched so many lives over the years and in so many ways

after keeping walter at home a bit longer than usual

 worrying about being needed at work

everything was finally ready

the moment he walked in

he looked teary

saying, “i can’t believe my eyes”

with the sweetest smile

he thanked everyone for coming

and was told

“walter, we are here to thank you!”

for impacting the town and the people

he had a chance to talk to every person

as we each presented him with a plant and our story

he had walked one down the aisle

when she was a waitress there and didn’t have a father

the pedi-cab driver had worked there too

some had worked with him for many years

or had been coming in for many years

and one after another

each person thanked him

multiple generations had eaten there

and he listened and he smiled and he thanked them

for being such an important part of his life

 when he sat in the booth that now has his name on it forever

he told his stories

how things had changed over the years but stayed the same

how life had been hard at times but was so thankful for everything

when he first started it was bob dylan and joan baez stopping by after a concert

 each era brought new music and new people

along with people who continued to come in over and over

bringing children and grandchildren

while the food is very good

walter is what makes the difference

why people keep coming

as we said our goodbyes

walter climbed into the pedi-cab,

now with bubbles flowing, music playing, for a ride around town

his town

to celebrate his special day

before coming back to his other home

the restaurant

as i walked back to my car

someone saw my t-shirt

stopped his car and asked:

“is that for walter from afternoon delight?”

when i said it was

he told me he owns a nearby deli

 whenever he sees walter making his way down the street

he makes walter’s favorite sandwich for him

walter is a treasured family member to everyone lucky enough to meet him.

“there is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter.

we sometimes lose sight of this…

then suddenly the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people,

who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.”

-sir richard attenborough

sweet.

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sweet delivery

people helping in the community just because

 

From the Humane Society:

The sweet and thoughtful Washtenaw Dairy drove up to HSHV today with pup cups for all the dogs!! They’d heard that we have a FULL shelter and brought enough for all the dogs to enjoy a cold treat on this hot day. Not to mention bringing donuts for the humans at HSHV! What a wonderful surprise, thank you Washtenaw Dairy 

Response from the Dairy:

Every day is a fun day working at Washtenaw Dairy but today was extra cool! Thanks so much to HSHV for allowing us to pop in today and treat all the dogs at the shelter with pup cups. We are excited to see these sweet dogs find their Forever homes! Their shelters are full right now. A lot of Covid puppies coming back.We wanted to do some thing to showcase their Empty the Shelter event and spoil all the pups that were there.

Thank you for all you do for all the animals in our community!

“no single act of generosity remains in isolation. the ripples are many.” 

―sarah winman, author

 credits: huron valley humane society, washtenaw dairy

finding dabls in detroit.

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i recently went with a group of colleagues/friends

to find the artist, dabls

working on his block in detroit

where we learned so much from him

an experience i’ll never forget

dabls’ installation-‘iron teaching rocks how to rust’ 

artist/storyteller dabls

uses materials as metaphors

to pass on his stories

of african and european art/cultures

open to everyone

he can be found working and sharing stories

on this abandoned block

that he has reclaimed

as his own and the community’s

most every day

dalbas mbad african bead museum

where each of his beads tells a story

dabls’ art has brought this house to life

 “Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named.

And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art;

to give a name to the cosmos, we see despite all the chaos.”

-Madeleine L’Engle

The Kresge Foundation elected Dabls as “2022 Eminent Artist”

to recognize his accomplishments in the arts as well as his lifelong impact on Detroit’s culture.

to read his full story go to:

http://www.mbad.org/best-friends

or just stop by to see him.

seed sampler.

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what a wonderful collaboration between the library and local seed organizations

once again showing how important a library is to a community

“inside every seed is the potential for an incredible harvest.”

-farrah gray

 

sleds.

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Community partners bring 1st “Free Sled Library” to Battle Creek.

Jeremy Andrews was enjoying a January vacation with his wife, Erin. The couple, co-owners of Penetrator Events, had just finished rafting along the Sturgeon River when they stumbled upon a unique feature at a local park: a shed with numerous sleds pouring out of it, the words “Sled Library” plastered on the side.

Now, with the help of some community partners, Andrews has brought the concept to the Cereal City, (Battle Creek is the home of Kellog’s Cereal), unveiling the first Free Sled Library, where patrons “borrow a sled, leave a sled,” at Leila Arboretum.

Kids took full advantage of the newly installed sled library Feb. 12 as hundreds poured into the 72-acre park for the annual “Festivus” cardboard sled race.

Steep hills combined with formidable ice claimed at least four of the plastic sleds available for kids that afternoon, but Andrews isn’t deterred. “As long as people donate, I’ll just keep buying sleds,” he said. “The idea is really cool and we’re happy with it.” Andrews has garnered more than $600 in donations since floating the idea out to friends on social media Feb. 2. A second sled library is planned and will debut next winter given the recent warmer temperatures.

Heidi LaGrow, a graphic communications technology instructor at Calhoun Area Career Center, was one of the first people to offer Andrews a helping hand with the project after reading his post on Facebook.

the pitch.

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brilliant pitch on our local townie site:

FREE SNOW SHOVELING CLASS: This Thursday Feb 3rd, I will be holding a FREE snow shoveling class at my place. Come and join the class and learn about the proper ways to shovel!

Reviewed techniques will include the scoop and throw method, the down and push method (AKA the plow technique) as well as the upside down scraping technique. 

Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to enhance your snow lifting techniques without throwing your back out! I will provide the driveway to ensure your training is conducted in the most life-like situation. I only ask that you bring your own shovel. 

PM me for additional details and times. Spots are limited and handled on a first come first served basis. Hurry, don’t delay!

as always, i loved the responses and they did not disappoint:

Is this for credit or just a certificate program???

Is this one of those Huckleberry Finn/ Tom Sawyer type classes where you have us shovel for you??

Now That’s What I Call marketing baby! Makes me want to get a shovel and throw on the parka and Boots!


Yes my place as well for the master class!

After can we repaint the fence?

You stole my idea!!!!

Now, why didn’t I think of that!!  

Best AAT snow post EVER! 

“i like work, it fascinates me; i can sit and look at it for hours.”

-jerome k. jerome

 

 

 

credits: ann arbor townies

aisle of shame.

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Aldi shoppers are not birds, but they sometimes sound like they are.

meet the proud shoppers of aldi’s ‘aisle of shame.’ this aisle has its own subculture and fan club.
(the ‘caw’ sound you may hear is one fan calling to another)

The “Aisle of Shame” is the unofficial name Aldi enthusiasts have given the store’s middle aisle, home to a weekly rotation of curious edible and non-edible products available only while supplies last. We’re talking everything from vegan lasagna made from lentils to a churro maker and apple cinnamon latte-flavored dog biscuits. The recipe for the Aisle of Shame’s surprising cult status combines the joy of a bargain, the thrill of discovery, the allure of the unusual, and the satisfaction of snapping up a limited-time offer.

“It’s something that you can use to express yourself and add fun and joy to your grocery shopping,” says enthusiastic  shopper Brenna Bazemore of its odd assortment of products. “I hate grocery shopping, but I love to go to Aldi and shop, because I know I’m at least going to get something that I can use outside of food and that’s always exciting to me.”

Plus, she can share her excitement with a million other AOS fans in the Facebook group where members share more than recipes, reviews, and Insta-worthy pics. With an evolving lingo, hashtag trends, and a propensity for random acts of kindness, the Aisle of Shame community is a unique food culture inspired by a grocery store. The Aisle of Shame’s edible advent calendars contain beer, cheese, and more. “It started as a fan group and it has become so much more,” writes Stefanie Fleming, the creator of the  Aisle of Shame website and Facebook group.

While each week’s AOS items can often seem like a compilation of randomness, a method exists. Since Aldi keeps prices low by stocking about 1,400 products (mostly staples) compared to a conventional grocery store’s 40,000, the AOS introduces more excitement and variety for shoppers. The aisle, which each week is split 50-50 between edible and non-edible items, often has a theme, whether seasonal (pumpkin foods in the fall; pool products in the summer) or regional (many AOS enthusiasts plan meals of schnitzel, spätzle, and strudel around the aisle’s German Week). Nils Brandes, a retail consultant who has co-written a book on Aldi’s business strategies, estimates that 20 percent of all yearly sales come from these products.

The Aisle of Shame is also where the grocers test new products to gauge their popularity—the vegetarian and vegan Earth Grown and gluten-free LiveGfree product lines, for instance, advanced from the AOS to the main aisles. “It’s crazy to think this is a grocery-store community,” Bazemore says.

After some thought, McKillip observes that Aldi shoppers might be more down-to-earth, their need to make a dollar stretch giving them both a healthier perspective about the products and more joy when they have room in their carts and budgets for the AOS’s more quirky products. Ultimately, though, she offers a simpler explanation: “It’s fun.”

“you’ve got bad eating habits if you use a grocery cart in 7-eleven.”

-dennis miller

credits: gastro obscura, sara murphy, photo: stella murphy

snow buddy.

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a wonderful community initiative

happened in a nearby neighborhood

when they got together and purchased a ‘snow buddy’

anyone who is at least 18 can train and sign up

to take a turn clearing the sidewalks

each time it snows

all are welcome to take a shift

anytime i’ve seen someone

out in the snow buddy

they are always smiling

 i’ll bet the whole neighborhood is smiling.

“summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.”

– george r.r. martin

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