WE KNEAD JOY!
WE KNEAD A HEART!
Despite what we see, hear, feel, and perceive from the person next to us, we can never actually see what truly lies in the other’s heart. This is the cause for much misunderstanding and conflict, problems at the workplace and at home, as well as in our communities, cities, countries, and the world. Thus, the root from which we should start eradicating is mistrust and miscommunication.
How? By materializing the feelings and thoughts of our hearts.
What would be the best medium? Poems or paintings, dance or music, clay or wax? All of them provide good visual representation, but one medium can also provide the crucially impacting aroma and taste representation of emotion: hot bread!
When we knead dough in our community activities, we knead our heart as if dough in order to bring it to the perfect consistency that is ready to be baked, broken, and shared with others. Not too sticky but not too dry, not too soft but not too hard, the dough should be the perfect consistency – just like the heart which is open and ready to love: and, ultimately we all know, to love is to give and to live.
The key to the amazing expansion and success of the Bread Houses Network is due to the ultimate simplicity of our vision: it is a means for personal transformation and community building where you do not need anything else but flour, water, and hands! And as is the case with most great ideas, the whole network came about from simple changes to a familiar local practice and symbol – like bread – and turned into a catalyzer for cooperation and problem solving to ultimately build a sense of community in highly-mixed, inter-ethnic neighborhoods around the world.
Read more about our methods:
1) Method for informal and formal cross-cultural education: BREAD: Bridging Resources for Ecological and Art-based Development, presented at Adyan Foundation International Conference on Cross-Cultural Education, Lebanon, June 2-3rd, 2011
2) Method for Alternative Carrier Counseling 3S:Sifting, Shaping, Sharing, developed in partnership with the Euroguidance network of programs in EU countries
3) Basic steps in the general Bread Method for community building, which can always be modified to include local art forms and strategies for solving local issues and community organizing.
Steps in the workshops: Explore the parallels between the stages of bread-making and the positive transformation within each person and within a community
• Aerating the flour with hands (called ”humanizing” in Italy, because it enables to flour to “breathe” and become “alive”)
1) Person: inspire each person to imagine him/herself as the flour and what it needs to undergo in order to be transformed into a unified, nicely-textured, and tasty bread
2) Community: begin to freely brainstorm ideas on a certain topic; of relevance to the community; as ideas are let out of one’s mind to “breathe” and be shared with others, more possibilities open up for them to acquire oxygen and be ”humanized” and realized
• Sifting the flour (with a sift): beginning a gradual process of ordering the ideas in thematic categories
• Adding the yeast: the facilitator adds critical analysis and more ideas not considered so far by the participants, acting as a catalyst for new ideas and analyzing yeast as the key metaphor of creativity
• Adding the salt: discussing the difficulties in each person’s life, the community, or in team work; how difficulties (can) make us stronger and wiser; discuss salt in its positive action and metaphor as preventing decay and adding flavor
• Adding the water: gradually mixing and kneading long, with balanced pressure: a process of consolidating the initial and the latter ideas into a coherent system with well-defined and also inter-connected spheres useful in an integrated, holistic approach to social well-being
• Letting the dough “sleep”/rise (40 minutes to an hour): avoiding hurried conclusions and actions, leave time for ideas to “sleep over,” to germinate and evolve, so that the ensuing action has much greater chance to gain success and sustainability
• Shaping the dough: taking time to focus on your personal talent; building on and developing your creativity; learning to also co-create with others by connecting and cross-pollinating your ideas and creations with them.
• At his point, if you employ our THEATER OF CRUMBS METHOD, then each person makes out of the dough a symbol or a character representing his/her interpretation of the given topic or theme of the workshop (anything from cooperation at work to love and solidarity in the community, to a better possible country; the key is the topic to be of relevance and interest to the whole group). Once the shapes are ready, each participant presents to the rest of the group his/her shape and people start composing together a story, which expands and gets elaborated with each new character and symbol. In the end, this is the improvised “theater” in which each person, regardless of age, education, or physical or mental ability, participates equally in a story that is often a reflection of a better society and better possible world we hope to live in (and we all have to work towards).
• Baking the bread (if no oven is available, each person can take the risen dough home to bake): engage local volunteers (from all ages) to animate the baking time with arts/creative activities and workshops that could also have a variety of themes, from community building and social integration of the weaker members to ecology and sustainable living (here is a small list of possibilities: write and read poetry, draw and paint, knit and embroider, carve wood, play a musical instrument, sing, dance, rap, story-telling (collecting local histories), create theater skits and scenarios, create short documentaries, develop local photography, etc.)
• Breaking the bread: break the divisions between professions and isolated local organizations, as people from diverse professions and age groups as well people from disadvantaged groups and special needs get used to co-creative activities, not only collective bread-making, but various other regular artistic, cultural, ecological and recreational activities indoor and outdoor
WHEN TO ORGANIZE A WORKSHOP?
In general, successful events are Thursday evenings, after work and school, 6-8pm. This is because many people leave the cities for the weekend; however, when most people do stay in town, we organize the workshops Fridays after 6pm or Saturdays during the day, 11am-1pm, or 4-6pm, particularly when we want to have more children. It ultimately depends on the specificity of each community/group.
TIMELINE OF A WORKSHOP
1) Approx.45 min: People come together and start kneading, until reaching a good dough and talking in-between the different stages. When the dough is ready people could shape the dough in three mains ways:
a) Regular bread: in whatever shape they like (round, elongated, braided, etc.)
b) Bread puppets/symbols: if the Theater of Crumbs method is used, this stage takes longer to create the puppets/symbols and takes up to 60 min total
2) Approx. 55 min: Letting the dough proof (rise) for 15 min + baking for about 40 min more – during the baking time people continue talking or start creating using other art forms
3) The bread is ready to break, and people share the joy of breaking bread together!
TOTAL: Approx. 2 hours
More aspects of bread to be explored in your local environment and tradition:
- Bread is universally present and loved around the world (even rice and corn-based cultures have rice and corn breads), consumed by people of all economic statuses, ages, genders, ethnicities, religions, educational backgrounds, etc: Therefore, bread is a universal experience and a universal language to unite and educate.
- Bread can be made by anyone, from child to grandparent, and is at the same time an entertaining cooking activity.
- When people share food, they are very much likely to establish peace and cooperation.
- Creating, not passively consuming, bread and art inspires the confidence that there are creative solutions to any problem, and that problems are not as grave as imagined.
- Tactile and taste experiences (bread-making stimulates all five senses!) develop particular parts of the brain, as studied by psychologists, which makes one perceive the world differently and ask deeper, critical questions: “Where does food come from and why? How do I treat my body, and what other food – intellectual and spiritual – do I need for a meaningful life?”
FACTORS IN SUSTAINED COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
More tips for continuity in community programs and local voluntary engagement
- Shifting the time-bound project thinking: make the “Project” to “Program” Shift
- Shifting the money-based project limitations: Assess your local assets, not problems, as a proven “asset-based development approach” in positive psychology
- Shifting the place-less (home-less) project activities: Strive to connect action to place (ex: regular activities at a community cultural center), creating meaning and belonging to a place through locally-rooted programs
- Shifting the “outcome-based” emphasis in project thinking to a sensitivity to the process of how social relations evolve toward shared goals and internal transformations, thus a kind of non-monetary “income-based” emphasis