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Cultivating Community In Chicago

Chicago is a city built on resilience. From great fires to brutal winds, Chicagoans have remained tenacious in making this city a better place. This unyielding loyalty creates a strong foundation of hope in this city, encouraging its’ people to take chances and push limits.

So it's of no surprise what amazing things can flourish here when people are brought together. After some months of planning, ​Karma Kitchen Chicago relaunched this past March planting seeds of generosity, kindness, and service in a community already so deeply rooted in love. A few snowflakes couldn't hinder the blooming spirit of service within the colorful walls of our restaurant partner -- Naansense. Volunteers quickly transformed the space into a botanical oasis, creating community tables decked with smile cards, inspirational quotes, and intention stations asking guests to find the ways they have been inspired by anothers' service. The Naansense team went above and beyond, handcrafting a special vegetarian menu which consisted of a savory 3 course meal followed up by a flour-less chocolate cake and pistachio ice cream that made every guest swoon with delight. Guests were invigorated with a sensory overload from the moment they stepped inside- from the soulful sounds of our guest performer,Gira Dahnee, to the aroma of fresh naan baking in the tandoor, to the sight of sunshine pouring in on flowered tables, to the feeling of fresh soil between fingertips as guests were asked to plant physical seeds in honor of the intentions they set for the new season. Guests were truly submerged in the spirit of Spring and its spirit of new beginnings. 

With such a small space, we weren't sure what to expect. If no one showed up, what would we do? Yet, like always, Karma Kitchen provided us all with subtle reminders in the power of love. Former "super" fans showed up and brought friends. Strangers walked in and quickly became friends. Guests and volunteers filled the "Before I Die" wall with ambitious dreams. Even more subtle- observing a mother's delight over her picky-eating child trying something new, perfect strangers off the street being embraced for a "family" meal, or the delight of a young family who happened to be strolling by and didn't have time to eat, yet were able to experience the joy of surprises with gifts from the kindness table--the entire  day was filled with small moments of great kindness. [More photos on our FB page.]

Like any flourishing garden, it takes some pruning and planning to create the best environment for abundance. While these seeds of service were planted in Chicago long ago, the challenge remains in finding the best ways to allow the spirit of generosity, compassion and inter-connection to grow organically. Cultivating a sense of community takes time, but planting seeds with love is a great way to start. Karma Kitchen Chicago is excited to see what grows!

--Roshni on Apr 10, 2015

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