Mural Marathon Meal

This weekend, I got to have my first real interaction with the GreenHouse students, where I'm the new Food Programming Intern this semester. They've had this ongoing project for a while, to paint murals on the walls of their Resource Room, and so they'd planned a "Mural Marathon" for the weekend, to crank out as much painting as possible in one day.  And of course, a free lunch was a great incentive to get people to come out for painting! So, I got to offer the incentive of helping to prepare a meal for the 15-20 folks who were involved.

First, here's a peek at the awesome painting job they're doing in this room. They've got a stellar environmental history theme going, with one wall devoted to the pre-European settlement vision of Wisconsin (the one complete wall shown below), one wall showing the beginnings of settlement (which the students in the photo below are working on), one wall covered by an image of Madison today, and the final wall depicting the Wisconsin of the future, complete with windmills, high speed rail, and small localized communities.  It's beyond impressive. I'll try to post more photos later as the mural project moves forward, if anyone's interested in seeing what comes of all this talent!

So, while the painters were producing art in the other room, I had a crew of volunteer cooks helping me create some art of our own in the kitchen. Because I only had help for an hour, I figured I'd make the meal pretty quick and easy, but hopefully still filling and delicious. On the menu was: a pot of vegetarian chili, two pans of buttermilk cornbread, and two dozen chocolate chip cookies.  I'll share the chili recipe in my next post.

And here we are making cookie dough, chopping sweet potatoes, and preparing to feast!

To be honest, I was a little anxious about how the whole thing would go over. Would the food be ready in time? Would people show up to help me? Would the students like the food? Would they like me?

But, it turns out, sometimes I worry for nothing (surprise!). The whole event was a smashing success, with bowls licked clean, friendly conversations, and warm feelings all around.

And I was super-impressed by all these GreenHouse residents--I've rarely seen freshmen so warm and articulate. Over lunch, there was conversation about who would take over in Egypt in Mubarak's wake, about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's atrocious public worker proposals, and about the rallies to be taking place at the capitol to protest these proposals this week (if you're in Madison, please help by following this link and taking action!)

It cheered me to see that there was space at the GreenHouse to talk not just about food, but about the larger social and political world within which food issues sit.  I want this blog to also be such a space.

Thanks for reading, and for thinking along with me.


  1. Impressive paintings! I look forward to seeing the finished product.

  2. I'll be sure to post more photos later in the semester!


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