An unexpected path to quinks

Photo Credit: Image by silviarita from Pixabay

I don’t consider myself a spiritual person. I was raised in a religious family, and in a small town where the church was the center of community and social life.  As I’ve grown, religion and spirituality have been less present in my daily reality. Part of this is no longer living in that small town, but the larger part is that I am a practical person and there are few spiritual paths that fit the way I approach the world.  Prayer may be emotionally helpful for someone coping with the death of a spouse, but a casserole or helping with child care are equally (or more) important things that will help them get through this week. The church community I was raised in had a healthy balance with an emphasis on practical support, but that’s been difficult for me to find as an adult.

The one religious sentiment which resonated with me for the past few years is the Buddhist koan “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”  Enlightenment can bring richness and meaning to one’s life but the practicalities of life remain.  To the observer little has changed, but enlightenment comes from within.

So what does this have to do with Quink Fair, a festival designed to help people seek out quinks like love and enlightenment and a new community?  Everything! There are many paths to quinks- travel, meditation, adventures, a new relationship, a new job, and more.  

The path I travel is one of “chop wood, carry water.”  Or more accurately “cook food, carry water.” (and coffee, and some Advil, and maybe some bandaids, and all the other stuff necessary to put a big event together.)

I genuinely enjoy cooking, and organizing, and building a framework that gives other folx the freedom to explore and seek out their own quinks or adventures.  It’s probably my theatre stage manager background coming through, but there’s something really satisfying about facilitating a beautiful experience for an audience.  People don’t usually see the work and sweat and tears and spreadsheets that go into the final product, but in some ways that’s even more satisfying. Doing my job as a stage manager or an organizer correctly makes me almost disappear to the casual audience member.  It’s magic.

And food is a universal connector- passing down recipes, cooking together, eating as a community, are all experiences that cross cultural and social and economic barriers.  Visit any place in the world and you’ll find people cooking and eating together. Some folks have more access to food or resources than others, but we all eat. Local food is a great way to experience and begin to understand the local culture.  Cooking and sharing food has sparked more quinks in my life than any other type of experience or adventure.

For Quink Fair, the path of “chop wood, carry water” led me to put together the Haven kitchen, which will provide hearty, nourishing, free meals for any and all folks who attend the festival.  I put together that plan partly because it’s a task I enjoy, and partly because I run a bed & breakfast and I’m SO SICK of cooking breakfast.  Quink Fair became my excuse/reason to cook lunch and dinner for a big group of people.

I honestly expected to be the only person interested in cooking at Quink Fair.  Cooking for a large group is a big, complex, sweaty (kitchens in Virginia in July get HOT), and largely hidden, endeavor.  Cooks do important stuff, but they don’t usually get the same applause or spotlight that musicians and artists and fire spinners get at festivals.  

Boy, was I wrong.  Within the first few days of my coming onto the organizing team and declaring that I was going to cook free awesome food for anyone who wanted it, there were 2 other people who reached out wanting to get involved.  At this point we’re up to half a dozen folks who’ll be contributing to meals at Haven House, with the list still growing. I started by building a plan based on what kind of meals could I put together with myself and maybe one other helper, and am now looking at the next awesome and amazing thing that’s going to become possible.  

Have we sparked any quinks with Haven house so far, or will we in the future?  It’s hard to say for sure, because change is often only visible in hindsight. What I know is that my life is far richer and more fun since I came on board the Quink Fair organizing team, and that’s quink enough for me.

Haven house details and meals

We’ll serve lunch and dinner on Friday, 3 meals on Saturday and Sunday, and breakfast and lunch on Monday.  Breakfast is 8-9am, lunch is 12-1pm, dinner is 6-7pm. Snacks, coffee, tea, drinks, and friendly folks will be available throughout the day and night.  Come by anytime to get tasty treats, find company, or lend a helping hand.

Please bring your own bowl/plate if possible.

Meals at Haven House are a gift, there is no requirement or expectation to contribute food or labor. Meals will meet a wide range of dietary needs including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, nut-free, no white sugar, and more.  If you have dietary needs or food allergies and want to be sure we’ve got you covered, drop Angie an email at  You can find more info on food logistics here.

Haven house is a kitchen (and theme camp) inspired and influenced by the Gratitude Bowls project, the TO communities conference, and the Rainbow gathering. We will feed anyone and everyone who wants it, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  We’ve also got lots of coffee (or tea, or lemonade, or water), and snacks available throughout the day and night. Haven house is a wholly unholy amalgam of BM’s Center Camp cafe, a Rainbow Gathering kitchen, the CommConf’s lounge, a place to make connections or lend a hand, and more.  If you’d like to join this camp and/or crew, please email Angie at