Saturday night's event was a long time coming. As I hopped out of the car, unloading bottles of Prosecco, baskets of haberdashery and spa treats for my guests, I had a gentle chortle at the fact that I had finally arrived at the evening of the first Nourished Teacher Seasonal Supper.
I've been working on this idea for a long while, you see. The vision of it has been taking up space on the numerous Pinterest boards I use to help envision future projects, and a clear sense of it has been gathering as I have listened to the progressively downward spiral that the narrative around the education system has taken. I’ve been wanting to counter this narrative with something softer, warmer, more affirming and at the same time attend to the pressing need to provide a wellbeing space for my fellow female travelers.
I know that when I get together with educator friends and we really get into a good chat, we invariably end up celebrating the brilliance of our pupils, the resilience of colleagues and the hilarious mysteries of school life. A catch up with a teacher friend, that often starts with the dismal side of things, soon sprouts into an enlivening and affirming moment shared.
Gatherings of women have ancient roots. As Aleya Abdulla writes in her essay The Power of the Women’s Circle “throughout history, women have gathered in sacred circle. Be it around a fire in prehistoric times, within hushed monasteries of the Middle Ages, in consciousness-raising groups in 1970’s living rooms or online groups in the digital age, women have long congregated to laugh, share, heal, care for children, grieve, and spiritually connect in community.”
With this in mind, I have been refining and honing a gathering based on the idea of a return to a women’s circle. My dream was simply to get a group of women around some great food, good wine and sparkling company and in so doing provide a space to put the world to rights, therein affirming our profession and ourselves.
And on Saturday night we did. A group of 24 women gathered in the candle lit, festively decked under station tunnel that is Hart's Bakery. Head chef Simon and his team cooked and served us up a divine four course feast. My dear friend and colleague Charlotte, got the evening started with a beautiful winter craft workshop and we talked the night away.
We made connections, realised mutual friends and made commitments to honor a space like this in our lives. For me, and and for many others in the room, it felt like the beginning of something really important. The will to come together and be part of this movement of small, intimate and meaningful gatherings, to be part of a group of women intent on nourishing their souls in order to better nourish those around them was certainly felt on the night.
The seeds of this movement are now firmly planted, with future events on the way. And regardless of whether we see you there, I'd like to invite you to take a moment sometime soon, to sit down with a friend over a cuppa, next to hearth (or indeed a radiator), and honor the space that is simply connecting and setting the world to rights.
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