Igniting Your Passion
Soulkitchen helps organizations create healthy and vibrant communities by welcoming the poor to the table and into the kitchen. With decades of experience in the hospitality industry and pastoral care, Chef Hannes Tischhauser and wife Louise offer consultancy, workshops, networking ideas, inspiration and ongoing practical input.
Soulkitchen is a charitable program of City In Focus.
A movement is only as good as the people behind it. At Planted, our partners rely on people like you to help them grow, prepare, serve and distribute food, as well as build nourishing, equitable communities.
If you’re passionate about helping people and love food, there’s a spot for you.
~Bringing Shalom: completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Strong’s Concordance
Vancouver is primed to become a global missiological centre in the Pacific Rim. There is a momentum building here. Vancouver is hard-wired to Asia both through its migrant growth and our geographical positioning. This excites me and further helps me to define why Soulkitchen is planted here right now. During a recent seminar in Vancouver, Ray Bakke (A Theology as Big as a City) from the Bakke Institute said ‘Vancouver is a global laboratory.’ He went on to suggest we gather leaders in the city and work together to create a life under the model of Shalom. Vancouver has the potential to be an international peace-maker and to be effective in reaching the next generations to become involved in changing the culture of our cities for the purposes of shalom.
Glenn Smith, Executive Director of Christian Direction could only echo the thoughts of Ray during the session. Christian Direction based in Quebec sees the city as a place of refuge and civic well-being for its people.
How do we do it? Glenn and Ray suggest neighbourhood engagement, openness and engagement in civic areas and intentional gatherings of city leaders is a good place to start. Glenn believes that the model for demonstrating this good or shalom to our culture is through collaboration and working together. This type of messaging works in our neighbourhoods – right at the grass roots level. This is the new politic. Bringing shalom to the cities that we love.
He suggests studying your neighbourhood and finding out what are the dreams of the inhabitants. Find out what you can do to bring shalom. Then act upon it. Stick with it. Keep at it. “Organizations over-estimate what they can do in one year. Organizations under-estimate what they can achieve in 5 years.”
The day seminar was facilitated by City Gate Leadership Forum leading the charge locally for better strategies and efforts so that the church becomes a valued leader in fostering a vibrant, sustainable city of peace and prosperity for all people. Soulkitchen appreciates the work of City Gate to facilitate this group of leaders in our city.
The power of inclusion or just let me in!
’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is great power in intentional inclusion. When we include others in our community there develops a strength born out of the diversity. We intentionally include all, not only because we want to prove to be non-prejudiced but also because diversity will usually add value.
You only have to take a walk down any major city restaurant strip to find a huge range of foods,pricing and décor. Mexican and Indian side-by-side with Arabic and Japanese cuisine. This variety draws a wide range of diners and ultimately makes the suburb and its community richer. Unfortunately we tend to find less diversity in our building practices within town and suburban planning models.
When we attempt to ‘mix it up’ in our communities the results are usually beneficial ones. In our small group of townhouses here in Vancouver, four households live in quite close proximity to each other. The group is made up of a middle aged couple with no children, us with 3 teenage/adult children; a couple with two young pre-schoolers and another couple with 2 school age kids. It just works. We are all in different stages in life but the spirit of friendship and hospitality that we have all worked to refine is quite powerful. It might be easier to not engage but the dividends that we are reaping through community building greatly outweigh any disadvantages. Diversity works. Because we communicate and work at our relationships we are becoming available to help each other both practically and emotionally.
In our Soulkitchen work with those living in single occupancy housing we recognize that through the food program we can bring others to the table. We can try to create a dining room that is inclusive – that represents a normal cross section of our community. This is healthy. We are allowed to manipulate the system to ensure that our wonderful group of tenants are joined by a rich group of people around the table. We have worked at dismantling any ‘us and them’ models and want to just see everyone enjoy good food and company.
On Friday night we hosted a dinner with about 25 guests joining us at our home. The guest list was very diverse – BC Stadium concession workers, More than A Roof tenants, some church friends, work friends and our neighbours. It is a risky business bringing a group together who do not know each other but we have found that it works well.
This spirit of inclusion has implications for the way in which this city and in fact any city will progress. If we build our town planning, our churches and educational systems around this concept of breaking down man-made social walls we will see a richness that helps us to battle loneliness and poverty. Providing clever ways to ease cities out of a ghetto landscape – without the predictable hostile battle against profit taking through expedient gentrification. And creating a world where ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours ‘ instead of having overtones of underhand mafia dealings is instead a regular method of adding value through community sharing. Everyone has something to offer the community.
The power of inclusion – a community built on service to one another – built not on protecting the strong at the expense of the weak. Seeking to include the weak, the needy and the different because it will add value to our community. I find all this quite scary. I also like the word ‘comfortable’ – I tend to enjoy my comfortable isolation. It is only as I see results that I am further certain that this is the way to go.
I am reminded of a certain children’s church leader who insisted that any child from anywhere could join the Sunday night group of kids at church. He would go out and bring them in – the kids from the really rough part of town. They enjoyed the games and the way they were loved and accepted by the leader. The kids from this rather large middle class church and their families were a little less welcoming. My kids would come home with stories of little Pete and his sister who reeked havoc on the poor flannel-board presenter each time. But – the inclusion not only gave those kids something good for supper, some love and attention but it also served to demonstrate something to my children. It tugged on hearts in both directions.
Invite someone strange into your world this week. And see what happens!
Gentrifying the Soup kitchen? or just a healthy mix?
Soulkitchen has its fingers in many pies (that’s a pun for those in the ‘know’!). We are intentionally linking with a broad range of people and groups. We believe that diversity is a key. Just as a restaurant offers a range of menu items, so too does Soulkitchen strive to offer a good mix. We want to be a ‘menu’ in the city that offers good choices to a wide diversity of folk. Having the tools to gather people from all corners of the ‘room’ will become a significant work. It is quite simple but especially effective in this city. Everyone agrees that that gap between the rich and poor is huge in Vancouver. Everyone agrees that the cultural divide is also growing as more migrants and refugees make this their home. This seems like a recipe for the social grid lines to be drawn even more boldly.
This year’s World Economic Forum in Davos revealed just how quickly the income gap is growing. Oxfam said that “the last thirty years has seen an incredible feeding frenzy resulting in a dramatic increase in the disparity of income”.
So we have been warned. We strive to provide social welfare that houses the poor, gives adequate medical benefits, provides food for those that cannot find enough to feed themselves and looks after the welfare of those suffering with addictions and mental illness. This is good. This is what we look to our government, social and religious leaders to provide.
But is there a power lying under-utilized? What about harnessing the power of CONTACT?
The power in creating a place of diversity where those who appear to ‘have’ and those who ‘have not’ can meet , and , without an agenda can eat together,laugh together,talk together and learn from each other.
We know that loneliness is a problem. Having people line up for a meal, or giving them a roof over their head, or better health care will not necessarily bring that person in need any closer to even one person. Soulkitchen wants to ‘manipulate’ the system whereby we create places and opportunities for those of vastly different social orbs to meet. These moments of healthy social interaction over a meal can be a life shift for those around the table or those sharing a workspace in the kitchen.
The wealth created isolation of city dwellers is as evident and rank as the scourge of poverty created isolation. If we can create opportunities to bridge these social gaps we will be giving life to both ‘sides’.
It is difficult to talk in terms of ‘have’ and ‘have nots’. It feels so crass and clumsy. But it is quite an obvious reality. We can continue repeating the mantra that Vancouver is such an expensive city and that we are all battlers until we actually meet with those for whom life is a daily battle just to stay dry or find a cigarette. Get real.
We have the resources to provide a place for a wide mix of people to join together in conversation around a table. We can be the host that allows young professionals, recovering addicts, musicians, philanthropists, hockey lovers, foodies, mothers, brothers, refugees, Vancouverites and jobseekers to join together for a meal. That diversity is hard to find. We generally like our ghettos. We feel safe around those of the same ilk. But good conversation abounds when a wide variety of folk gather around a dinner table.
We are working at creating a kitchen space and a dining room that is a safe place and an environment where love, compassion and trust are at the forefront. The food is really just the palette. Community building is the main work that hangs on the wall.
Let the mix continue. This is healthy. We are onto something.
We appreciate your help financially so that we can continue to add new colours to the ‘palette’ and let our dreams take form.
Status update: Dumped by Safeway
Today my rather dreary Safeway ‘host’ informed me that my Safeway Card was no longer valid. The program was over. They weren’t going to reward me anymore at the checkout. They weren’t going to reward anyone. With a final dig he suggested I could recycle my card in the receptacle next to the Customer Service desk. I did. Is that it? Are we over? I had walked into the store feeling part of the Safeway family – a card holder – a dealer – one of the privileged. Now there was to be no favourites. No Club members.
Saturday Status update: Dumped by Safeway
With the rise of social media in the past 10 years and particularly Facebook we have the impression that a status change is something that we control. Something that we announce on our terms and in our style. We have the currency to change our skills, likes, partners, photos and privacy settings via the keyboard. It’s a game.
Maybe there is a good side to this as it gives those who are powerless and marginalized a tool in their court. A public voice. But it does cover up the real crush of being relentlessly ‘updated’ by others. Helplessly taken on or off government welfare programs, helplessly taken on or off medication, helplessly moved from one crisis to another.
In Safeway today I had no choice. ‘The program has ended’ the checkout guy told me. ‘Trash your card’.
Do we feel for the poor when they are told – ‘The program has ended. Trash your card?’
Powerlessness. I don’t know it because I have money. I have so much control over my status updates.
My life work is to help others to find a place of dignity. Not to suggest that power or success is attainable just because we go after it but dispelling the illusion that others decide our status updates would be a start. I try to do this through ENCOURAGEMENT – it is often all I have to give. I can nurture a friendship and hopefully assist people out of despair and deadlock through a mix of listening, encouragement, care and practical help. We can be really effective – that’s what healthy community does. It spreads encouragement and grace like a strawberry jam on a slab of toast.
Soul kitchen – Impacting Lives through Food…and Strawberry Jam!
Recruits Rising to the Top
One of greatest joys for us is to see young people succeeding in the kitchen in confidence and creativity. One of those recruits is Macy. She wrote this blog about our Sunday night meal.
CHEF HANNES’ BURGERS!
It’s always a full house when it’s burger night! But why? What makes Chef Hannes’ burgers so special?
The homemade patties are packed with a superb blend of secret spices and fresh vegetables. Once freshly grilled, the 6-ounce patties become incredibly juicy, flavourful . They’re atop a toasted bun dolloped secret sauce. The secret sauce is tangy and creamy, a perfect compliment to the burger. Today, it was served with crispy potatoes, golden fried rice and a face-full of smiles! 🙂