This past week 12 of us got together to vision and uplift the spirit of RIC with our new family coming on board at our winter retreat.
My journey started Tuesday morning when I flew to Boston a few days early to be on a panel at the Community Food Systems Conference that was being held the same week. When I got to Boston I hopped on the train which they call the T and made my way to Wonderland which is the stop that my brother John Wang works at. He works at the Lynn area Food Project Office where he over sees that whole area. It was awesome seeing the office as I had never seen the office before. Once we got there I was introduced to all the folks that work with him like Food Corps Members and staff. I then ate a little something and then helped with some cooking for the retreat. I cooked the Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup which looked, smelled and tasted delicious. A former youth who used to work at the Food Project actually came in and helped cook the other soup which was a mushroom soup. At the same time John made this delicious fried chickpeas dish. After all of that food was cooked we went back to John’s place where I was staying. Once we got there we had dinner and then some other RIC board member Ari and Beatriz came over to go over what we were doing for our panel and workshop the next day at CFSC. When they left John went to pick up another board member Bevelyn who planned the Summer Summit in Greensboro over the summer.
The next day John, Bevelyn and myself hopped on the T and then walked through China Town and the Theater District to the Community Food Systems Conference. When we got there we went up to our room to check out the space and get ready and then we got some breakfast. When the workshop started Beatriz took the lead in doing her Monster activity which we also did at the Winter Leadership Institute back in February. Once the workshop started everyone looked at a couple quotes that would frame our discussion of the workshop. Once they analyzed these quotes they went over what they thought the monster is and how it makes them feel. They then broke up into groups based on the monster of the past, present and future then did a free write where they combined their writings with sound and movement and then shared them with the group. After words we did a little breathing exercise and then had some cultural share backs in the form of poems.
After the workshop part was over we went into our panel discussion. It was a pretty straight forward panel where first John went over the history of RIC, then he asked us questions about how RIC has helped us and what we value about RIC. I think it went really well. Once we finished we went and found a table to go over some retreat stuff and then we hung out and had lunch. The food was really delicious and filling. During lunch some of the youth from Appetite for Change came on stage and did their hit Grow Food as well as other songs they’ve come up. It was lit! Once that was over John, Bevelyn and myself took the train back to his house and kind of chilled for the rest of the night.
The next day was our day of rest & cooking before the retreat. I helped cut shallots for breakfast. Later in the day John, Bevelyn and myself went over to the Air B & B to open it for the people coming in that night and while we were waiting we watched some Stranger Things. Once Sam Vergara from Windy City Harvest from Chicago got there from the airport the 4 of us went down the street and had some bomb Indian food at the Kebob Barn. Later Noah McDonald met us for dinner and then John, Bevelyn and myself left to go back to John’s house and had some Key Lime Pie before bed.
Friday was when our Retreat started. First it was breakfast of some delicious congee. To start off I did the opening prayer and passed some sage around to smudge everyone. I then said a few prayers for those here and their ancestors. After that we started off the day by going around an introducing ourselves and telling our cultural heritage, family, perfect day, embarrassing moment and other things. It was a lot of fun learning about people. Once that was done we did some where is RIC now and why did we bring everyone here talk. We then had some soup and salad for lunch and then talked about the youth engagement plan and the regional model we are thinking about for RIC. People had some really dope ideas for this model. We then played a game called your Grandmother’s Underwear and then did our last thing for the day where we looked over our RIC circles and where everyone would like to be apart of. After dinner some of us went over to a church to watch Winona LaDuke speak who was here for CFSC. It was very inspirational and I very much apperate all the work she does.
Saturday we did some more visioning around our different circles and the 20th RIC summer summit. We thought up this cool idea of RIC-stock like Woodstock where we take RIC from urban to rural. We also went over a little more of the regional model. After our day ended early we went over to a place called Flatbread and had some bomb pizza. Speaking of food John Wang our resident cook made the most amazing food. When I arrived on Tuesday I helped make some really amazing Butternut Squash & Ginger Soup while a former Food Project youth helped make a mushroom soup. Then Ludia who also works for the Food Project made some really amazing Potato Leek Soup. John then made some chicken and spiced rice with sweet potatoes. He also made some really amazing pies like Apple, Key Lime, and Coconut Cream. Oh and for breakfast we had congee. John definitely did his thing like always.
Sunday was a more chill day as I didn’t leave until 7:40 at night so John and I dropped off our sister Bevelyn with her friend as they were roadtripping to Providence, Maine. We then went back to John’s had some lunch and then just chilled until it was time to take me to the airport. I got home later that night safe and sound.
Over all I had the most incredible time in Boston as always and getting to see my RIC family has been amazing. I am so happy for the future of RIC going forward and the people we chose to be apart of the circle. When we were doing something called rock, stick, leaf (something that rocked about the weekend, something that will stick with me and something I would leave behind) I said I wanted to take everyone and just put them in pockets and I really meant that. I love RIC so much and have been so honored to be able to organize with these amazing people and now these new family. I might be quiet but RIC gives me life! #RICisLit
So this gathering would not be possible without the amazing energy and organizing of John Wang for housing Bevelyn & myself, cooking, baking and driving us all around. Keeylie Curliss who got us the beautiful space we organized, cooked, and laughed in for two days in Cambridge, MA. Also to John Wang, Ari Rosenberg & Beatriz Beckford for everything they do for RIC everyday and have been doing for so long. And of our new RIC heart of Noah McDonald, Wade Arnold, Sam Vergara, Bevelyn Ukah, Ludia Modi, Manny Encarnacion, Keely Curliss, Iyeshima Harris, and our family who couldn’t make in person but were there in spirit Travis McKenzie and Irene O’Connell. I love you all and had an incredible time! So looking forward to RIC in the future!