What's your soul food? How lockdown cooking is inspiring change in Bristol

It’s fair to say we’ve probably spent a considerable amount of time in our kitchens in recent weeks.

Whether you’ve perfected family recipes or taken inspiration from Youtube, the extra time at home has allowed us to experiment with food. It’s an opportunity we may otherwise not have had.

One Bristol-based charity has come up with a unique way to share these recipes and bring the local community together.

The Architecture Centre joined forces with social enterprise 91 Ways to Build a Global City, to invite people of St Pauls, a suburb in Bristol, to exchange their “soul food” recipes. They will be transformed into permanent artwork at three community buildings in the area as part of The Greenway Project.

Georgina Bolton, a freelance Engagement Producer at the Architecture Centre, said: “It’s about bringing people together to make better places. A lot of the work is about connecting and pulling groups of people together to think about how to inspire or animate the places they live in.

"One of the big things was about the role of food in St Pauls. At the learning centre and the adventure playground, as well as other sites, there were amazing food offers that the community loved.

“So, food became a real thing about how we could connect people together and celebrate the area. We were going to bring people together with 91 Ways, a Social Enterprise, who specialise in connecting world food cultures.”

The aim of the project was to get people in St Pauls together over a large feast to share food, ideas and recipes that would eventually form the three murals at three community venues in Bristol.

But, Coronavirus happened and the campaign was forced to take a digital turn.

“We had planned for a big community feast at the learning centre in March, where we were going to talk about how food can inspire permanent design changes in St Pauls. Obviously we had to reshape that once Covid-19 hit,” Georgina said.

“We’ve been lucky with the Soul Food campaign, where we decided to invite people digitally to celebrate their loved family recipes or new things they’re cooking in lock down. There’s been great conversation bringing people together around the subject of food.”

Shankari Raj, architect and one of the project leaders, added: “We will pick three of the recipes from the Facebook page, one recipe will go on one wall at each community centre.

“It’ll be a mural on the wall, as part of a larger mural. There’s also a poet that’s involved, she’ll be looking at the recipes too and may do three different parts of the poem. They’ll then be displayed at each of the community centres so you can wander through the sites."

She added: “We’ve got a green space next to these community centres, they’re all doing something with food in the community. Whether it’s a café or groups cook there and serve food, but have nowhere to gather to eat together. So, providing them with tables and chairs as a simple thing to start with.

“But then how do you make them feel that the community centre itself is something they have ownership over and value? That’s where the campaign comes in.”

If you would like to explore some of the recipes that have already been contributed or to find out more information about the project, please visit the Facebook page.

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©2020 by Peak.