Reinventing community, one chocolate pie at a time.

So I had another article I was going to publish today, but I attended a workshop on making raw chocolate today… so forget that!

My first Minga Skill Building workshop!  Hosted by Ami Dehne from Minga, and taught by Rodrigo Goller – chocolate maker extraordinaire.

Firstly, Minga Skill Building is “A place where neighbours can come together and learn skills from other neighbours.  The goal is to take the newly acquired skills home and teach others so that skills are not something that we leave for only for the ‘experts’, but are acts that we are able to do with our hands that will ground us emotionally, physically and spiritually .  The reason it’s called a ‘hub’ and not ‘school’ or ‘centre’ is because the vision is that Minga is one of many skill building hubs across the world – not one person or people own skills- it is knowledge shared amongst all.”

Here’s my take on our current cultural place and why ‘Skill Building’ is absolutely crucial in our modern day:

The sharing of skills generally encouraged at Minga are those that were often lost amidst the ‘specialization era’ of our industrial age. 

“[The] skills can be thought of as old craft skills, resource management and growing food — knowledge that was alive and widely distributed in society only two generations ago.” – Ami Dehne, from a page on her site.

A completely accurate depiction of Ami I did a while ago.

I believe our society’s original intent for our redistribution of skills was to allocate the manual labour to larger corporations to provide us with things we needed, in order to free us to continue working in our given field.  I can see how this… made sense.  This said, I think it’s stupid.  Idealistically, it allows us to have more time to fully learn our chosen discipline, and truly excel at it.  However, it has come with a cost.  A big one.

In the process of eliminating many of these ‘old world skills’ we've also become disenfranchised and disconnected with the many processes that occur in order to create the goods we use and depend on.  Naturally, it’s put us in a very entitled place (high five millennials?)  Suddenly, we have numerous expectations of the corporations that are supposed to be serving us. 

The title of Time magazine, article written by Joel Stein.

Surely they’re making the food we buy healthy and nutritious?  Surely this soap and deodorant don’t have any toxins in them, that may produce health problems later enough in my life that I won’t connect the two?  Surely they’re not making us dependent as means of control?

As demonstrated so drastically by our environment, the notion of humans trying to interfere and often disrupt the natural life processes doesn't yield positive results.

Long story short, this isn't really working anymore. 

Suddenly, we live in a time when every purchase provokes further research into the given item or service, in order to make sure it’s really a good product, and to make sure it’s truly healthy for us.  For example, is that cheap, pesticide-doused food really cheaper if it may cause you numerous health issues, which then makes you rely on our healthcare further to administer drugs to counteract the effects of the original purchase in the first place?

Things should be simpler.  Simpler – like in the previous generations mentioned above where you would be responsible for the fruits of your own labor. I don’t mean to romanticize the past; a certain Midnight in Paris taught me some things about artificial nostalgia.  Rather, I’m suggesting that it would be good for us to reestablish some of the lost connections of being self-sufficient, a trait that is in rare supply today.

If you're a fan of self-sufficiency.  Look into the urban farm movement.  The future is here, and we should all be fighting for this.

Even to learn just a few of the ways to create our own products I've personally found very beneficial.  For example, I currently make my own deodorant.  Incredibly simple and I’ll never go back to the toxin-ridden store bought versions, and takes about 5 minutes. 

Minga Skill building is all about reestablishing some of these lost connections with products and services we can use practically in our everyday life.

NOW, onward to the workshop!

My table partner, Kelly Baker, who designs awesome websites and runs a local music mag called Music Lives.

Our teacher, the one and only, Rodrigo Goller!

Mixing away!

A bunch of members of the community of Guelph came out to share our common love of being able to make our own RAW chocolate.   Obviously the workshop was fully booked! 

Paul Wartman, from Many River Permaculture, brought his mother Cathy and sister Casey.

My ice cube trays full of chocolate become full, had to use the back up containers.  Yes.  Chocolate pies.

A close up to emphasize the CHOCOLATE PIE.

We were taught never to cheap out on ingredients with chocolate!  Got the good stuff.  The bag is cacao butter, which is sometimes difficult to find.

This is carob powder, a chocolate alternative.  Don't know much about this.

Aside from learning how to make chocolate, it also provided the priceless, blissful feeling of being connected to a community – to a tribe.  This subject deserves a whole other article. 

Briefly though: being connected to such a loving, giving community, for me, overrides so many other great feelings.  When you feel truly grounded by folk with similar interests, struggles, and outlooks on life, real magic happens. 

It’s like a gentle pat on the back that says, “Everything’s going to be alright”. 

And when in doubt, wine.

I find myself questioning my belonging and future aspirations almost daily as an artist, so to feel the bond that can occur in such a great tribe is truly a powerful motivator.  Throughout the workshop, I ate a fair amount of the various raw chocolates I made, and didn’t even realize we would soon be indulging in raw cheesecake.  Soon enough, I found myself incredibly full, riding a wave of the antioxidant-high that was undoubtedly occurring internally.

When I left, I physically felt incredibly stuffed, but emotionally fulfilled in every avenue.  This is all I can ask for from my community, and I truly extend thanks to all the folk who came out and joined for an evening of chocolate, and especially to our hosts, Ami and Rodrigo, organizing and teaching.

And to those interested, making chocolate is very easy and straightforward!  You should do this.  This said, when using real raw cacao, remember the old saying: “The bitter the better”.  However we also had quite a lot of local raw honey to add at our will, which really made it tasty. 

Shared with parents when I got home.  I left the room for one minute and this is what happened.

Me, awfully proud of my chocolate pies.

I've started a series of animated Youtube videos.  They will tackle various things in health and nutrition.  I’m starting with the Vitamins but I may have to make a slight departure and do one about Cacao, as it’s got some pretty amazing benefits, especially in its pure form.  I plan to eventually cover various foods anyway, so I might strike the iron while it’s hot.

The ‘series’ is titled Anima Healthi, a take on the term Anima Mundi, which in Latin means ‘the world soul’.  According to several systems of thought, it’s an intrinsic connection between all livings things on the planet.  Got chills? Me too. 

Here’s my first video, on Vitamin D (after all it’s winter time!).  Enjoy!  Let me know what you think.

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