While the IHH was closed this year I spent some time facilitating some workshops at the house, on practises of hospitality. The idea was to make some space to reflect on how some of the ordinary everyday things we all do around the house (like cooking, cleaning, making tea) make space for the other. I also got the opportunity to present the cooking workshop at the Kathleen Syme Library in Carlton, as part of the September TAG ('teach anything good') Day. In the new year I’ll also be facilitating the workshops for some locals in Footscray.
If you think about it, cooking for someone is quite and intimate activity. We’re working with materials, often using our hands, that will enter into a person’s body and become part of them. That’s a very close relationship - especially considering that many people who are employed to cook do not even meet the people they are cooking for. I think this relationship is important at the IHH because we as Settler people are often cooking for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander guests. We are two groups of people who have been in conflict, but the cooking brings us into close relationship. (Don’t get me wrong, often it is still awkward!) It’s also been particularly significant for us as Settlers when our guests have offered to cook for us, and nourish us.