Last month, the Global Student Embassy rallied many of its student participants, its staff, its Board of Directors, and about 200 of its supporters to gather at the Barlow in Sebastopol for one of its tri-annual “Cultivating Change” dinner fundraisers. I got to catch the story of the evening in part by being there as the Food Coordinator helping the flow of dinner service and later I also sat down with Kate Crigler, GSE’s Development Manger and co-organizer of the event. I left our time feeling incredibly inspired.
For an organization whose mission is to “develop community leaders through action oriented environmental education” their fundraisers do not fall short in reflecting the heart and the integrity of their goals. This year the students arrived early onsite to set up needed infrastructure, to set and make beautiful the tables that all would be eating at, they welcomed the guests, served them appetizers, provided complete dinner service at the tables, told their heart-felt stories of their experiences with GSE, and then stayed late to clean up the entire event — what’s more, they did it as a team. Whether they are double-digging garden beds in Sebastopol or Ecuador or washing the dishes and stacking chairs at the end of long day — the students working with GSE are learning quickly the depth and the vastness of their competency.
For the event, a family-style three-course meal was prepared onsite with ingredients donated by Sonoma County farms & markets including Two belly Acres Farm, Laguna Farm, Oz Farm out of Mendocino, Shelton’s Market, and Andy’s Market. The food was prepared by Sonoma County chefs, Emma Uribe of Scopa and Natalie Goble of Peter Lowell’s, the appetizers were donated by Fork Restaurant and Spinster Sister’s Restaurant, and the desserts by Mustache Baked Goods. Wines were donated and poured by La Follette and MacPhail Wines all evening. The tables were filled with people from all over Sonoma County, some close friends and many who were getting to know each other for the first time — everyone there from “farm to kitchen to table” coming together in unity with a strong yes to support environmental education and the empowerment of our youth.
Whether it was time, creative energy, or money invested that night, Sonoma County truly invested in big ways in the sustainability of our community and in our ‘glocal’ world’s future. It’s moments like these that remind me that fundraising is not simply an an ask for the generosity of financial support — it is an invitation to collaborate, to be apart of something that nourishes the topsoil and the water table of our community culture, to invest in ourselves knowing that we are all part of something even bigger than the success of our homelife & careers, and to celebrate celebrate celebrate!