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How Drinking Gin And Roses Can Cultivate Strong Communities

Never forget: Simple ideas, like gin and roses, can do big things.


When I was in London earlier this fall for a supper club, I had a lovely new gin concoction, which was served with a wonderful story, one that seems fitting for the holiday season.

I’m part of a women’s not-a-network called Hub Dot, one of a growing trend of women’s groups trying to restore the community connections among women we lost in the past decades’ shift of focus to professional spheres. This was our first supper club. The food served came from the hands of women with stories to tell, such as Mazi Mas, an organization that employs immigrant women to cook their native dishes. They not only provide these women with income for their talents, but also bring people back to a table where food isn’t just nourishment but an act of communion. (Take that, “Tyranny of the Home Cooked Meal.”)

A company called The Rootless Garden greeted guests with cocktails. The Rootless Garden is not just another catering company offering local and fresh food. It does cook local and fresh, but with a twist. London doesn’t have enough non-ornamental agricultural space for chefs to grow their own herb and veggies. So The Rootless Garden takes plants to homes for the elderly. Their herb and vegetables are not only grown locally, but also cultivated by the hands of convalescing English gardeners, who have the time to devote to careful pruning that we, the busy and the young, don’t. From their website:

Rootless Garden believes it is ingrained in our very essence that we need connection to life, to friends, and to meaning. Through activities such as social clubs, intergenerational conversations and gardening we can transform environments, improve social lives, help people both physically and psychologically as well as providing novel opportunities for learning.

I didn’t know any of this when I first sipped my gin and roses, a pink-tinted gin and tonic made from soaking dried rose petals in the gin before mixing. (Soak the dried petals until the gin is pink, she told me, then make a gin and tonic as usual.) Normally, I’m not a gin fan. I’m a brandy in a Sidecar kind of gal. But the roses took the sharp bitterness out of the concoction, which took on a little more meaning for me after I learned about the mission of The Rootless Garden, helping the elderly remain engaged in life, taking a bit of the bitter edge off of aging.

I’d come across a similar organization a few weeks prior. FBC Brazil offers English as a second language classes to young Brazilians. The students need to practice, and older folks living in retirement homes often just want to talk with someone. So FBC Brazil set up web chats.

These are such simple ideas doing big things. The tasty cocktails were just a bonus.