How do you connect during a pandemic? 2020 signaled the end of the days – at least for now – of sitting on our Community Solutions office windowsill, watching the construction project across the street and collaborating.
The shift to fully remote working on March 13 of this year was jarring…how would we stay connected?
Community Solutions is a small office – just more than a dozen people spread across two offices across the state – a small thinktank where collaboration and communication have always been key.
So the shift to fully remote working on March 13 of this year was jarring – for our office and thousands of others across the country who had to do the same thing – how would we stay connected?
It was in this atmosphere of uncertainty and trepidation that, with St. Patrick’s Day pictures of a Rueben and avocado toast, #CCSKitchen was born into the twitterverse.
It’s that sense of community that’s led to nearly every staff member sharing their meals with our office and with the world.
The first documented use of the now famous (at least in the halls of Community Solutions) hashtag was on March 17, just four days after our office closed for what we thought would be maybe a month or two. The creator of the hasthtag, Community Solutions Fellow Loren Anthes, describes its meaning by saying, “While we normally cook up great policy ideas when we’re together in the office, we haven’t been able casually drop by, say hello and talk like we used to. The #CCSKitchen allowed us to connect around a common experience, show off our skills, and, as far as I’m concerned, catalog all the incredible baking Kate [Warren] has to offer once we’re vaccinated and back in-person!”
And that first Reuben post, coming from Public Policy and Advocacy Director Tara Britton, said that “joining in #CCSKitchen with my colleagues has been a great way to learn more about everyone, including their favorite foods. This is one of the ways we’ve continued to collaborate while being socially distanced from one another for going on nine months.”
And it’s that sense of community that’s led to nearly every staff member sharing their meals with our office and with the world.
“In normal times, food is one of my favorite ways to connect with people and build community,” said Research Fellow Kate Warren. “How I miss filling my house with friends and relaxing around the table with a bottle of wine and a good meal! #CCSKitchen has been a bright spot in a dark year. Why does it feel so tethering to know what my coworkers and friends are cooking up in their kitchens? I think it’s because in some small way, it feels like I’m there in their home, sharing a meal like the good old days.”
“Nothing quite says family like inviting someone into your home, cooking alongside them and sharing your favorite recipes,” said Public Policy and External Affairs Associate Hope Lane. “I ultimately joined the #CCSKitchen because this year my colleagues have stepped up for me in ways that only family would. And while I did not anticipate in simply opening up cabinets people would open up their hearts, the fun social media fad has brought our small team much closer together.”
Now, more than nine months later, rather than a fad the simple hashtag has become a way to connect with our Community Solutions family. A simple way to share not only our ideas but our families, friends and food.
“We tell stories with food, that is one of the cool things about working at Community Solutions. Usually, between our research and policy analysis, staff would congregate in the kitchen to discuss their latest food finds and favorite recipes. Missing this part of our culture, when the #CCSKitchen hashtag was created I happily joined in with a recipe that is one of my favs, Fried Corn and Tomatoes with Johnny Cakes (fried cornbread),” said Communications Coordinator Eboney Thornton who also kindly shared her recipe below.
Fried Corn and Tomatoes with Johnny Cakes (fried cornbread) Recipe
- Dice your tomatoes and put them aside for later.
- In a frying pan, pour enough oil or grease to coat the bottom and heat it up until it shimmers across the surface. Once hot, add the corn and season with salt and pepper. Let t fry for a few minutes then stir.
- Then add your dices tomatoes, season with salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes are sautéed or fired to your liking.
- Follow the instructions on your cornbread box.
- In another frying pan, add your oil or grease. Heat up.
- Once hot, pour a little batter until it makes a small pancake. When you see the little bubbles around the outer part of the pancake, flip to brown the other side.
Scroll through our #CCSKitchen photos which feature the culinary creations of many of our Community Solutions staff members, their families and friends of the organization. Want to join us? Just include #CCSKitchen on your social post!