Using our Heads, Hearts and Hands: SDC Cook-in for Community at Our Big Kitchen

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Article by Lila Kennelly, Sydney Development Circle (SDC)

It was a cold, wet day when the SDC community took to Our Big Kitchen for SDC’s first social event of the year. A diverse group of people from a range of backgrounds braved the weather and joined forces to prepare meals for House of Welcome. Friendly faces (complete with name tags, aprons and caps) filled the room, and the rainy weather was soon forgotten.

Over the course of the day, it was not only our cooking skills that were challenged. It was our three Hs that were put into action: our Heads, Hearts, and Hands.

SDC cook-in 16 Feb LW_MG_1555Paul Bottrill (pictured right) spoke to us about House of Welcome’s work with refugee communities around Sydney, and of the struggles their clients face to get by on a daily basis. Like many, my heart was affected by the difficulties refugees face in our communities, and I was happy I had the chance to use my hands in the kitchen to make meals for those House of Welcome support.

But before we entered the kitchen, our heads were put to task by Greg Fisher from Our Big Kitchen who posed us some challenging questions around funding in the not-for-profit sector. He asked where funds for organisations such as Our Big Kitchen and House of Welcome should come from, and what the future of the not-for-profit sector might look like.

SDC cook-in 16 Feb LW_MG_1581The wonderful Sue from SDC made sure networking was full steam ahead as we teamed up with new faces to think through the issues Paul and Greg had raised. And of course, to cook cook cook! That’s where the fun started, as onion induced tears were shed, cooking prowess flaunted, and new connections were made.

Our heads, hearts and hands were in action as we chopped, peeled, fried, discussed, and shared ideas together, knowing where the food we prepared would go, and thinking about how we might sustainably support this type of work into the future.

SDC Discussion OBKComing together to share our ideas after a satisfying lunch was a lively affair, and a great chance to hear from people in a range of community and development sectors. We spoke of multiple funding platforms, social business, collaboration, and discursive change.

Our three Hs in action helped get 250 meals (and 80 babka!) into the community! It also gave us the chance to network with people from diverse development sectors, and think through some very real, and relevant issues.

For me, the missing link in much community and development work is collaboration – it’s a challenging and messy area – but I think development circles can play an important role in fostering the sharing of ideas. And that’s exactly what we managed to do- whilst having lots of fun of course!

Thank you to all who participated -especially to Greg and his staff at OBK, Paul from HoW, and SDC’s Sue. Photo credits: Louise Whelan, Sue Liu.