HOW WAS THE MINDFUL KITCHEN BORN?
Life is full of ah-ha moments and if we pause to thread them together, we weave visions. This is how The Mindful Kitchen was born. It´s a different kind of Kickstarter, so sit back for a moment and allow me to spin a yarn.
Once upon a time, I owned an eco-friendly eatery and workshop hub in Copenhagen where my "sister from another mister" (Marian Reed) and I taught thousands of people about the big picture need to create regenerative agricultural systems and the "in our own sphere of change" cookery skills we need to reduce our climate food-prints. We cooked up the plan as we wrote our thesis on the business of food waste to earn our MBA´s at Copenhagen Business School. Tooting our own horns, people loved the events! Yet, there was a frustrated voice in my head that kept saying, "Nice job kid, but this isn´t how you help BIG change happen. Lives don´t change (and certainly not societies) by giving people to-do lists." If mitigating the impact of climate change was as easy as sharing top tips on how to reduce food waste and why it is important, we would live in a different world already. I set out to find a more impactful way to help people ACT on their intent to live in harmony with the rest of nature.
Whilst searching, I had the chance to train in climate change communication with Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project. Gore finished our three day session with a call to action for humanity. "Must we change?" Yup. In 2018, the IPCC warned we only have12 more years to reduce emissions, biodiversity loss, soil degradation and increase forest cover before unspeakable things will happen. "Can we change?" Definitely! We pretty much have the science and tech we need to flip a switch and dramatically change the world tomorrow. So why don´t we? Cue Mr. Vice President, "Will we change?" That is the million dollar question. Climate change is a human problem, and we need to look at why we humans behave the way we do to find the solutions that will WILL change.
Round about this time, I was working with a gaggle of stunningly kind human beings at Sustain: The UK Alliance for Better Food and Farming. I was asked to research the world of social prescription, the scheme being rolled out by the National Health Service to prescribe community connection instead of pills to deal with a number of ailments connected to mental well-being. It was through this piece of work that I discovered a body of peer-reviewed research called Nature Relatedness and the penny dropped for me in a "piano falling on Wile E Coyote" gob-smacking way. The Mindful Kitchen was born to help you develop a nature relatedness practice, through the food you eat so that from head to hands to habit you can become the change the world desperately needs. Become the change because change is a process that doesn´t happen overnight.
EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT NATURE RELATEDNESS IS?
Identity changes. How you defined yourself 10 years ago is unlikely to be the exact same view of you, you have today. Experiences change the stories you tell yourself about life. As your inner narrative shifts, your perspective shifts. When your perspective shifts, you start asking new questions and trying new experiences. If they feel good, those adventures become habits and eventually your behaviour begins to align with your new identity.
What happens if you identify as being an equal part of nature? Think of it this way. You don´t know all the people who have ever gone to your high school, but whenever your path crosses with a previously unknown alum you feel an inexplicable bond. (Once a Raider, always a Raider, Fairportians!) If you have a nature related identity, you feel such a bond with all forms of life.
Human equality with all forms of life is a fundamentally different story than the one that has resulted in the climate crisis. That story is about two worlds often in conflict. There´s our human world (aka civilisation) and the natural world (aka the middle of nowhere). This idea that nature is out there somewhere, a thing that you go and visit, isn´t true. In reality you are a turtle and nature is the shell on your back, separating the two is not a good idea. Every breath you take and every bite of food that you eat tangibly demonstrates that you are in constant exchange with the rest of nature, just as all other forms of life are.
Nature relatedness researchers have developed a scale that measures how nature related your identity is. Over time, if you engage in activities designed to up your nature relatedness, correlated benefits emerge. Your stress and anxiety levels decrease. Your creative abilities increase along with your capacity for empathy for all forms of life. Slowly, but surely, your behaviour begins to change and you behave in more eco-friendly ways seamlessly, not out of sacrifice. Why? When you see yourself as nature, you don´t see a difference between human health and planetary health. We all need practices that top up our mental well-being. Practicing Nature Relatedness tops up your health, and the planet´s health at the same time.
WHY DO I...(I MEAN WE)...NEED THE MINDFUL KITCHEN?
The faster our lives move and the more time we spend in offices, box stores and highways, the more nature feels OUT there, just at the time we need to internalise it the most! And all of this is stressful! Our anxiety levels are through the roof. Who doesn´t want to add a dose of purpose to our pleasure, like eating. The Mindful Kitchen exists to help you build a nature relatedness practice with food to help you become the change. The change you need to feel better and do more to make the world a more regenerative place. #fromheadtohandstohabit
Building a nature relatedness practice with food means learning how to weave together a few foundation skills. In yoga, you might think of foundations as breath work, downward dogs and planks. In nature relatedness it requires storytelling to build new perspective, beginner’s mind to build new knowledge, and rituals to build new meaning.
From head to hands to habit, your relationship with food becomes your means of living a life aware and respectful of the constant dance of exchange you are in with the entire natural world. Think of it this way, you could eat cake 364 days a year, but only on your birthday does that slice of buttercream bliss hold the story of your past and dreams for your future.
Imagine if every bite you took was that sweet, meaningful and pleasurable? The book that Leaping Hare is publishing in Autumn 2019, The Mindful Kitchen: A Recipe for Life will help you to start your journey. This Kickstarter aims to get you beyond the book and into a full blown at home Nature Related practice!
WHY THE KICKSTARTER? THE £20,000 QUESTION. (The book is just a beginning...)
WHAT´S IN IT FOR ME? THE DIGITAL MEMBERSHIP SCHEME
Anyone who has ever tried to lose 20 pounds or quit smoking knows that developing new behaviour patterns takes time. We want to do so much more than give you a book or inspire you on a 2 hour workshop. We want to provide you with a digital membership programme so that 52 weeks a year, we can offer you a Nature Related plan to pepper your week with pleasure AND purpose! Hey, you´ve gotta eat, probably love doing it, so why not make it count?We plan to work with Dr Elisabeth Nisbet of Trent University in Peterborough Ontario to adapt the Nature Relatedness Psychometric Test she and her team developed to our Mindful Kitchen process. In this way you will have motivational milestones to reach for and achieve as well as feeling all the yummy benefits inside of yourself. We will build a digital platform, gather the experts and launch our Beta Digital Membership in Autumn 2019 if we raise at least £10,000. That means everyone who loves the book will have a way to keep going with their nature relatedness practice!
WHAT´S IN IT FOR WE? THE ROADSHOW
Imagine if we developed entire communities of people engaging in Nature Relatedness? First of all, our live events are an inspiring way to bring nature relatedness to life as we break bread, learn and laugh together. Second of all, imagine the ideas creative and change hungry souls could dream up if you met to practice Nature Relatedness together. Third of all (?) the old caveat "think globally, act locally" holds especially true when relating to your environment through food. While there are general similarities, the experience of nature relatedness in New York, Melbourne, San Francisco and London are different. That is why we are planning a Mindful Kitchen Roadshow to those places from Autumn 2019 through Spring 2020 to build a global community if we raise £20,000 - and further afield if we raise more. The digital membership scheme will unite you all!
WHAT WOULD A YEAR OF DIGITAL MEMBERSHIP OFFER?
WHAT IS YOUR TIMELINE FOR GROWING THE BUSINESS?
WHAT HAVE YOU ACHIEVED SO FAR?
WANT TO KNOW WHY OUR TEAM IS HUNGRY FOR CHANGE? GET TO KNOW US! *virtual handshake*
Founder and CEO Heather Thomas reckons her nature relatedness inspiration happened in an orange grove at the age of five. Co-founder Marian Reed is excited to get you to re-purpose your measuring cups as planters once you learn her Italian grandmother´s intuitive approach to cooking.
WHAT DO PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED THE MINDFUL KITCHEN HAVE TO SAY? (other than "MORE, please", of course!)
Risks and challenges
A new business is ALWAYS risky and challenging. But saving you from our full risk register, let´s talk about delivering on the products outlined in this Kickstarter. Our book has already been put to bed, so there is little to no risk getting A Recipe for Life into your hands before the end of 2019 thanks to the amazing people at Leaping Hare Press! As for the digital membership scheme and the roadshow, we are sure we can deliver with your wonderful support. But, as ever, start up teams need more hours to work than there are in the day and we are balancing delivery of current workshops with developing new products. Timelines are the biggest risk!
Supplier Delivery Timelines
We are gathering a team of behavioural science and adaptive technology specialists to build the digital membership scheme. With your support, we will deliver, but our timeline could slip further into 2020 if the schedules of start up team members do not align as envisioned. Similarly, delivering on the roadshow is dependent upon on the ground partners around the world and the timing will be dependent upon aligning schedules.
- (42 days)