Rising Together: What Bread Making Has To Do With Art In/With Community

Apr 16, 2020

by Markelle Elizabeth Evans



Last Friday, conNECKtedTOO hosted its third Zoom gathering during quarantine in regards to the health and safety of our communities during COVID19. For those that are not familiar with Zoom, it has risen in popularity during quarantine as a digital communicative tool for groups of people, coworkers, and classrooms to utilize as we strive to continue learning, working, and thriving from our homes.


But why continue meeting during a pandemic?


From my perspective, conNECKtedTOO needs to continue conversations even though its artists, activists, and educators cannot physically meet with TINY Business owners, students, youth, or partners. Now more than ever, TINY businesses need support. Mandatory closures are easier for corporations to navigate than they are for independent owners of barbershops, markets, restaurants, and artists. Unemployment, layoffs, and financial struggles are rampant. And even more impactful is the fact that many of us can now only access our loved ones, friends, and networks of support over the phone.


So, really we should ask:
Why stop meeting during a pandemic?


Though these Zoom gatherings began as an experiment‒trying something new, as crisis often requires‒in a way, hosting events digitally have increased how accessible our events are and broadened our ability to host conversations with anyone willing to share stories, listen, or participate. By using Zoom to organize community check-ins, workshops, and demonstrations, conNECKtedTOO members and supporters can continue to actively engage their creativity and drive for social change. I do not think that this work and its influence to inspire has to end just because we have walls between us. We can rise together between screens, baking and breaking bread, crafting paper houses.


Okay, get to the point. How was the bread making?


conNECKtedTOO posted an ingredients list as well as a promotional graphic, due to many having to make limited runs to the grocery store. Once ingredients were acquired, all participants had to do was tune in on Friday. I saw familiar faces and some new ones all collectively kneading, watching the yeast mixture bubble, Jean-Marie using his flour-dusted hands to describe the textures we should be looking for. His kitchen was comforting for me to see after weeks without being there. It was the same kitchen where he showed me how to make buckwheat crepes‒where the batter was too thick at first but he showed me how to thin it out‒and it was cast in that warm, afternoon sun that stretched across the room from the windows. The collective had many dinners and lunches there. I didn’t know how much I missed that space until I saw Jean-Marie surprise the audience with a bonus recipe. Buckwheat crepes.


The event went well and later that evening, attendees sent pictures of how their bread turned out. I would consider that a good measure of success. Bread making may seem like it has little to do with art or conNECKtedTOO’s core values, but it actually is everything we are striving for. It’s creativity, control, independence and working together, sculpture, education, and entrepreneurship all in one afternoon. It is coming together during a crisis, a pandemic, and making something. It is the familiar comfort of a kitchen when everything feels so uncertain. And most importantly, it’s delicious.