Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Bowl of Porridge

It was a nice surprise to be fed breakfast by the good folks at Ground-Up Initiative (GUI). Somebody cooked porridge. Vegetarian of course, chockfull of mushrooms and carrots. It looked really good, but I was very pai-seh to take a bowl as the food really, was for the volunteers and staff for the day. A bowl was merrily scooped out for me, with the condiments and seasoning ingredients all sorted at the side. Pepper and soy sauce. It was a delicious brunch. The communal dining spirit was well and alive.

In existence since 2008, GUI moved thrice to current Lorong Chencharu premise (right next to 'Orto', the old Bottle Tree Park, its carpark, to be precise). The new 2.6-ha non-profit started up by Tay Lai Hock began small and dreamt big. It has been plodding steadily, one brick at a time to build its Kampung, an eco-village, offering volunteers and the public an opportunity to build a community from scratch. From time to time, usually on the first Sunday of the month, they hold an organic pasar for us to buy some vegetables and cleaning enzymes.

Donations, sponsorships and funding are always welcome, but volunteers are crucially needed too. Volunteers put in hard work of course, to build sustainable architecture, sanitation, maintain and clean the surroundings, tend to the vegetable plots, understand the interaction of our food and land, and take ownership of our space. There're many enthusiastic students who clock up CIP hours (Community Involvement Programme) at GUI. Young adults and seniors are needed too, especially when they can offer various areas of expertise as builders and crafters to solidify these visions.

The people I met at GUI are dedicated, passionate, focused and very clear-headed. It was an absolute pleasure chatting with them. It's really awesome to hear their vision for this Kampung Kampus. If you haven't been there, take some time to do more than visit. Get down muddy and sweaty. We don't need air-conditioning all the time. Okay, unless your allergies are terrible, committing hours to build the Kampung is well worth your time and good for your spirit. As averse to human interaction as I am, I couldn't help being infected by the genuine sense of camaraderie and focus that morning.

At the sink, as I scooped a spoonful of camellia seed powder (or tea seed powder) to wash the utensils, I grinned. It's been a while since I've used it. The last usage was on a trek out around Puget Sound in WA. While I know about green alternatives to our usual chemical cleaning agents, I've never used any on a regular basis. Never put thought into wondering, why not. Not sure those eco-friendly products I buy off the shelves or online are all that friendly. Green living has definitely not permeated my life except existing as some sort of hip must-do in some aspects. Ran fingers around the insides of the bowl and spoon. Granted, porridge doesn't generally leave an oily residue, but the plastic-resin bowl was spanking clean. Plant saponin is a natural de-greaser. It worked beautifully.

No comments: