A Greater Conversation

“…this ‘wisdom of the unplanned’ (or the inherent structure of the unstructured) is something our world (and especially our educational system) simply does not understand. We plan things to death, imposing cold rationality on the warm heart of unfolding meaning and purpose.” John Barti

When I think back to the moment I became a baker, I remember that I needed to recalibrate my vocational trajectory. Actually, to be honest, I had no idea where I was headed! My career moves now include art teacher, musician, graphic designer, small business owner and presently bread baker/(would be) change agent. With over two decades of baking under my belt, it’s not exclusively been about the baking process either! More importantly than the toasty aromas that fill the air, it is the conversations that fill a room when bread is shared–com panis! It is the substance of bread that we are looking for from each other. When we are attentive, our stories become part of a greater conversation.

If I were to unravel the cyclical calibrations of my life and stretch them into a single strand, it would resemble a line drawing with unruly contours–meandering narratives rendering a self-portrait. How do we navigate the autonomous currents that crowd our life? Let go! See where it takes you. Creatively use and respond to change. It’s the aberrations that instill liveliness to what we do. Seek out the edges and value the margins. The main stream is not the mainstream!

My hope now is to integrate, rather than segregate my actions and render them like a gesture drawing with less figurative ornamentation. In other words, keep it simple. My work at Bakewell Farm is about applying design patterns that teach a community to bake bread for themselves. For example, take a recipe that yields two sourdough loaves. Each “community baker” bakes a loaf for him or herself and gives the other away. This gesture, materially and socially becomes “bread” for oneself and for one another. This approach does not begin with a why but with a what. It’s a material act that creates movement. Think of it as capacity building both on a personal and social scale. I fully accept that it will take time and effort to realize a tipping point. It’s about taking the long view and adopting design-forward thinking. What comes to mind are the words of Renaissance typographer Aldus Manutius Festina Lente, “Make haste slowly.”

Why would I think that the bread-centric educational programs at Bakewell Farm would unfold swiftly? The process of making bread is itself a model of care with generous amounts of time. Please take a “generous” moment to visit our newly designed website and consider getting your bread in the game!

Marc Jalbert, Founding Director of Bakewell Farm, a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to introduce “bread-centric” educational patterns for building community while engaging in a variety of public service efforts. Please visit us at: www.bakewellfarm.org