Lunchrooms, Mushrooms, and Potlucks

Lunchrooms, Mushrooms, and Potlucks
The opening of our [storefront] Mushroom Farm on Tuesday brought a healthy dose of surprises and delights last week. We installed the mushrooms on Sunday, a fun if extremely juicy experience, and opened as a community lunchroom on Tuesday. On Friday, we finally saw progress in the struggle to maintain 80% humidity inside the farm when we added a Vicks vaporizer in addition to misting the farm by hand.

Each day, we watched more and more people tour the farm during lunch, leaving their offices to come together with leftovers and brown bag lunches at our communal table. We also discovered that one of our coffee partners, Zeitgeist, changed the way that they dispose of waste in order to increase their production of grounds. Now, they are able to use grounds from both espresso and drip coffee after ceasing to co-mingle milk waste with their spent espresso shots.

We had hoped to see a host of changes like these when we originally set out, but like any experiment involving nature --plant, animal, fungal or human-- things unfold in their own time. 

With all of this happening in one week (plus enthusiastic coverage in the New York TimesInhabitatArchitizer, and Atlantic Cities), it's no wonder that our eyes are set intentionally on the week ahead, which is filled with both community lunchroom hours as well as evening events.

Setting the stage for these gatherings was Friday's first convocation held by the 2012 Jack Straw Writers: a potluck dinner on the eve of our first voice training workshop.

Lunchrooms, Mushrooms, and Potlucks
After touring the mushroom farm, we found ourselves adding our own layer to the experience of the space in the form of conversation, stories, and wondering aloud how the coming year would unfold for us as a group. One writer flew in from Walla Walla, another drove in from Port Townsend; the rest of us filled in from around Puget Sound. We were each in turn excited and nervous about our first studio session in the morning, beginning to trust each other enough to share ideas and talk about our individual projects, which are all distinct: poetry, long fiction and short stories, to essays, travel writing and non-fiction.

We made oaths of future meetings: writing a novena cycle together, which involves staying up all night to write each hour on the hour, and an overnight retreat on Orcas Island, as well as  Saturday workshop sessions where we can share feedback over the course of the year.

Soaking it all in --the 50s and 60s girl-group channel that played in the background, the warmth of the lights on exposed brick, the gentle glow of the farm, the taste of porcini mushrooms in a side dish and creminis in a casserole, and the sound of our collective pauses and laughter breaking like waves-- I thought of all the things that might have happened in this space over the past century and all the things that will happen in the next few weeks.

Then, I thanked the universe for inventing mushrooms.

Added by Gabriela