Over a hundred Baltimore residents gathered on Saturday night for the 4th edition of an innovative fundraising event called STEW. STEW is a joint project of Baltimore Development Cooperative and Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse, where attendees pay $10/person for the opportunity to share a multi-course locavore meal and listen to the financial needs of three amazing local non-profits. At the end of the meal, attendees vote on how to distribute their +$1,000 of pooled donations.
The eponymous 2640 (St Paul St) housed the event, which contained three communal tables—dressed in brown paper tablecloths, mismatched silverware, cups, and plates—spanning the length of a church hall. The meal left this blogger pleasantly surprised about the delicious variety available within a 40 mi radius of Baltimore, and in April no less! Food was donated by local farms: Calvert’s Gift Farm, Great Kids Farm, Participation Park, Real Food Farm, and Truck Patch Farms. Volunteers cooked and served the food, with a warm and professional feel.
The inspiration for STEW, as decribed on their website, was “the ’network dinners’ organized by the art-activist collective campbaltimore in 2006, Incubate Chicago’s Sunday Soup, Brooklyn’s FEAST, as well as the amazing dinner that took place at 2640 during the City From Below conference.”
The first course was a tangy and sweet salad of mustard greens, sorrel, and radish tops, which was followed by a presentation by the Velocipede Bike Project, a community bicycle cooperative in the Station North neighborhood of Baltimore. The next course was piquant and crunchy sliced radishes in sorrel butter and roasted asparagus rubbed with salt and pepper. Following these veggies, another group presented on the International Drag King Community Extravaganza to drum up support for this rotating annual event to be held in Baltimore in November 2010.
To much excitement, the main dish and the namesake of the event was a delicious rabbit and dumpling stew (or) a strikingly green, vegan spring onion soup. After slurping up the last drops of soup from my bowl, Follow Your Dreams Inc. (FYD), a youth center and recording studio in the Harwood neighborhood of Baltimore, gave a stirring request for funding along with a deeply introspective, spoken-word poetry piece by a young FYD participant. Over desserts of vegan dark chocolate brownies, buttermilk panna cotta, or almond sponge cake, the attendees voted on how the three groups would receive their pooled money.
The funding breakdown by group was as follows:
· Follow Your Dreams, Inc. ($665)
· International Drag King Community Extravaganza ($170)
· Velocipede Bike Project ($170)
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future was well represented at STEW IV by Amanda, Angela, Becca, Brent, Jillian and myself (Dave). I’m looking forward to STEW V next month, to learn about, interact with, and support other deserving Baltimore non-profits.
– Dave Love