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Kendal joined the TimeBank after her friend taught a pickling class for the TimeBank. Kendal attended and was excited about the idea of teaching a class with her grandmother on making traditional pierogi. Her grandmother had grown up in the neighborhood near our offices, but had been displaced when the freeway was put through. Her family had stayed connected to the area through their church. For pierogi class, not only Kendal’s grandmother but also her mother came in to help her teach. Through this and other cooking classes Kendal had some hours in the TimeBank but had never spent them. Recently she bought a little house in Detroit that her grandfather had been born in, and spent the first several years of his life living there. The house has been abandoned for many years and has suffered considerable damage from scrappers and the elements. Kendal’s plan is to rehabilitate it as a model off-grid home with many contemporary environmentally friendly touches, while still keeping its historic flavor. At this early stage tearing out old damaged parts of the house is still the order of the day so we had a crew of nine people working in the house tearing out old flooring, dry wall, and insulation. It was a hot day to be working with long sleeves and masks on, but we managed to get a lot done before the sun got too high in the sky. - Unity In Our Community TimeBank, Michigan #timebankingis #community #50storiesin50days #timebanks #storytelling #timeasmoney #rehab #detroit

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Reflection by Edgar Cahn

Food and a shack in one story.  A TimeBank cooking class brings an abandoned house to life.  What do they say in the TimeBank world?  Both take on a symbolic significance.

First, pierogi is not just food.  And it is not just a collection of inert ingredients.  It is regarded as part of central and Eastern European culinary culture.  Pierogi is the Polish name given to filled dumplings.  The root word piru comes from the ancestral Slavic word for “feast”.

So what does it take to create a pierogi, aka a dumpling?  The dough is made by mixing flour and warm water (and possibly an egg and sour cream) rolled flat and cut into squares or circles.  And then a filling (fried onions, farmer cheese, spinach, meat, mushrooms – or for desert, a fruit filling) is placed in the middle.  The dough is then folded over the filling to seal in the filling, then simmered until they float and are drained or fried or baked in butter.  They can be garnished with butter, sour cream, bacon bits, mushrooms – or for desert with apple sauce, jam, or other sauces.  In the process of sealing the filling in, each dumpling becomes a small work of art, a triangle or a half circle.

But the tradition that Kendal, her mother, and her grandmother are passing on comes with special meaning.  In Ukraine these dumplings are not just a national dish.  According to Wikipedia, they also played a symbolic and ritualistic role.  They had power.  Ukrainian ancestors equated pierogi with a young moon since they have a similar shape.  They used the dumplings as part of a sacrificial ritual.  For example, cheese dumplings would be sacrificed near water springs.  Years ago, Ukrainian peasants also believed that pierogi helped bring a rich harvest, so they took homemade dumplings along to the fields.

And what about that little abandoned house, weather-beaten, eroded, and looted by scrappers?  But this was not just any house.  It was the house that Kendal’s grandfather had been born in and lived in as a newborn.  Now the house was going to be reborn with “environmentally friendly touches.”  A crew of nine TimeBank members working on a hot day with long sleeves and masks were the obstetrical team for this rebirth: replacing floor, walls, and insulation.

We have in this one story, food associated with a rich future harvest and an ancestral home restored and renewed.  As a species, this embodies what we can do with inanimate objects.  When we put them both together with TimeBank energy, you have both a symbolic representation and an actualization of how we can jointly create a living ecosystem, born from the past, and provide both nurture and shelter for the future.