Community Building

Me – at the Sedona VegFest

This past weekend, I had the incredible privilege of participating in Sedona’s (Arizona) first VegFest, hosted by Healthy World Sedona. While so many ‘responsibilities’ called to me, both before and during the event, I almost immediately realized what an outstanding opportunity it was for building community.

In preparation, there was a flurry of activity that demanded my attention. As the founder/organizer of the Meetup Group, Verde Valley Vegans, one of my levels of participation was as an exhibitor. Organizing the literature that was needed; getting a gift certificate donation (from VeganEssentials.com) for a raffle; putting together a sign-up sheet for both the Meetup group and this very blog; ensuring that the banner was clean, flat, and ready to be hung—just several of the items on my list. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that when I fail to plan, I plan to fail. So, we weren’t having any of that for this weekend. Since this was the second tabling event I’d done in the past several months, I made a list from the first event that got tweaked before this weekend and will now again for some fine-tuning. I took advantage of being able to go to the venue on Friday evening for early set-up so that when the doors opened on Saturday morning, I was ready to go.

All that effort paid off.

In addition to being an exhibitor, I volunteered to be the Cooking Demonstration Lead. I was responsible for the Green Room. With that, came the duty to ensure that Chef Jason Wyrick (and on Saturday in conjunction with plant-based dietician,Julieanna Hever), had everything he needed in preparation for both the Saturday and Sunday demonstrations as well as during them, and the clean-up afterwards. What fun it was! I was assigned another volunteer, and together, we were able to be sous chef, gopher, and best of all—had the opportunity to not only engage in a conversation with Jason regarding cooking but also got to feast on the fresh taco on Saturday and the amazing Thai stew fresh off the burner and the Chiang Mai salsa straight out of his molcajete on Sunday.

I had the incredible honor of dining with Victoria Moran (Main Street Vegan) and Sailesh Rao (Climate Healers). I was able to chat with Renee King-Sonne, the exuberantly-dedicated force behind the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary.

Through it all, and as a direct result of my participation, I met some of the most amazing people, from those who are veg-curious and had no idea where to begin, to the seasoned vegan.

Mutual sharing abounded. Emails / phone numbers were exchanged.

Connections were made. The circle expanded.

I closed out the weekend motivated — from the message communicated by the plethora of marvelous speakers, from the energized conversations and connections made, and possibly most-importantly, to feeling joyful and grateful for having had the opportunity be a part of this movement, if you will, of the growing awareness and awakening regarding the benefits of adopting a vegan lifestyle and what that means regarding human health and wellness, animal welfare, and the planet/environment and all its resources.

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