Vegan/Veg Potluck shows NEO's Golden Gate to future

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 08/20/2006 - 23:19.

When I saw The Redhead's posting on REALNEO for "green :: a vegan and vegetarian potluck :: every sunday!" I knew this was a good thing and decided to invite some friends and attend. I'm certainly glad I did. Not only did I have the best meal in recent memory, from good homes and hearts, but it turned out to be a real "NEO Excellence Roundtable" where I met a bunch of awesome people making NEO special... we all even learned lots about vegan baking, from an entrepreneurial pro chef... all on a beautiful Summer's eve, in a setting hard to beat, on the shore of Lake Erie, at Lakewood Park. Learn more about all of this, and plan to join in next week... read on!

"The Redhead" who promoted this green affair (easy to spot, in the photos above) is Shelly A. Gracon, Owner + Director of get mod! productions... "a catalyst to getting the word out about unique businesses, galleries and artists in the Northeast Ohio area." Considering the strong turnout for this unique occasion, I'd say she knows how to get the word out... a few dozen folks showed up and they heard about it from many sources, making this a flash-pot-luck... very inventive and successful I definitely plan to talk to Shel in the future about helping promote REALNEO and May Show, and checking out whatever she plans, including as many of these weekly pot-lucks as I may.


A very cool highlight of the evening was a presentation (and goodies) by Kate Nicholls (above), of "Katie Cakes, Etc. - Vegan Desserts"... " A homegrown vegan bakery founded in Cleveland Ohio. We believe that you can have sweet desserts without the use of animal products. A world with less animal cruelty is a better world to live in. We can provide quality cakes without a guilty conscious this time near you in Cleveland. 5% of our profits will be donated to Farm Sanctuary and another 5% will be donated to Oxfam."

It was great to dine under the blue sky, surrounded by nature, an upbeat Lakewood energy, the lake at its best, and cool folks. Shel and company (and she was far from alone in planning this, as it has been a regular event for a while, in a more ad hoc kinda way) set a perfect table... at one end was a fascinating painting by a local artist (whose name I need to post here later) and at the other end was a bicycle, giving all the right vibes. The spread included build your own tacos, various salads, a killer lentil and rice dish by Evelyn, veggie pizza, chips, and tasty desserts, etc... I brought my famous vegan margaritas, of course!

Claes brought his appetite and lots of energy, which worked out great in this low-key park full of kids, open spaces and playthings of all sorts... lots more fun than the City Club! The adults played frisbee and talked food... Claes walked tall.

The feeling I got from the experience was the closest I can recall to being in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon, when there is a weekly drum circle that draws a similarly hip, young, progressive crowd. People coming together for a shared experience without any more agenda than breaking bread - pounding beats - meeting strangers and feeling more alive. It was exactly what I needed... it is exactly what NEO needs happening all the time, all over town.

This group represents the NEO Gen-X that the supposed community leaders are so desperate to attract and retain in Cleveland. These are our entrepreneurs, and artists, visionaries, and progressives, even as they are call center workers at Progressive, and Kaiser. They write for the Free Times, and work at the Plain Dealer, and share real NEO. They are who work to make cool NEO's only really cool restaurants. They paint and start companies in their free time. They drink Ohio wine and eat locally grown natural food. As NEO "leaders" spend $ millions to "create" the new economy they want, "they" are clueless that they are served by the new economy NEO wants, each day... "they" don't know that what the economy needs is right here in NEO, or where to find it, or what it cares about. Proof of that was in this morning's Plain Dealer, where an editorial and lots of letters to the editor preached "regionalism" and attracting immigrants, and education, and finger-pointing yet not one word spoke of making NEO healthy, natural and clean. I think it is time for the "leaders" to get off their funded for the economic future suburban pulpits and away from the echo of their own voices and choices and get down to Lakewood Park on a Sunday afternoon to learn what really makes NEO desirable to the next generations.

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