Our Pierogi Dinner was about collaboration, but food related events won’t return soon

There is plenty of collaboration in successful community events, its even easier with Zoom and Trello.

My community group has historically done large eating-oriented events that brought out 600-800 paying customers, often (over) filling the school cafeteria. Our fish fries have been legendary forever, Oyster Roasts an October tour de force our members and others loved.

The original pierogi event came from one member (Stephen Fogg), who suggested it as a substitute for a not well-attended spaghetti night in late January. Noting that, “Every Catholic church in Cleveland has pierogi dinners every Friday in Lent,” was math many former Yankees in our club could imagine. He served about 50 of us those buttery, cheese and potato filled Polish delicacies, what most describe as like ravioles. For many, it was comfort food from childhood.

It’s truly a Collaborative Process

We decided to do a test run the week before the dinner, and besides cooking the kielbasa and slivered onions that would make workers familiar with production tasks and timing, we made 1200 kolacky cookies. It took about 2 1/2 hrs. dedicated effort, turning balls of dough into, smaller, thin squares, dab a blob of jelly in the middle and fold cookies.

Those cookies were THE inspired hit. Only two at a time rationing, unforgettable. We were short of *everything,* bought out the nearby Harris Teeter on supplies, including turkey kielbasa, more onions, and sour cream.

https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/11/06/pierogis-as-content-collaboration-success-model/ I’ve used this as ‘thought leadership’ several times. From first presentation of pierogi possibility to counting the dollars that went with massive group pride in the successful operation, it was four months total. The speed of ‘best practices’ collaboration between remote workers involved in any project today hits a ‘reach out and touch’ standard with Zoom.

When our marketing, essentially just church bulletins as far as Rock Hill, produced wild response, people coming down the stairs at 5:01, we started ringing the register at all levels. Customer satisfaction? Highest rating every time.

Like the Oyster Roast (October) and what had been a 34-year tradition of selling Christmas trees starting after Thanksgiving, we’re not doing pierogies this year, and didn’t last year, because really good crowds are not how we break COVID-19’s grip on being together.

Fogg & minions= collaboration

Job Two Counts Big

That means, at the most basic level of collaboration, masking up as an act together for a common goal. Call it best practices overall, IMHO, Pandemic is Job One.

Job Two is putting some economic levers back into full play, and WFH (work from home), the ability of not-in-the-same-place talents to be immediately and easily incorporated into a creative flow, has proven that connectivity and productivity can maintain high standards.

Naysayers might point to ‘job encroachment syndrome’ or something similar, because widely diffused sources don’t always slot easily with time on task vs. ‘dark hours.’ For every ‘The Intern,’ where a go-go executive learns the human cost of constantly being ON regarding business, you’ll find dozens who have found a rhythm they can live with.

Perhaps not including those who swapped drive time with at home schooling concerns, or might have to consider paycheck alterations – If we’re ALL tele-commuting, sending contributions to a central point, able to SEE the results in real time, should there be a location differential?

There isn’t a room full of Mad Men-style creatives down the hall any more. Whole operations are dedicated to the proposition of lots of people doing pieces, with a use ’em and lose ’em financial philosophy.

From story reading to community org’s, well-delivered messages work wonders

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Wednesday morning was the second time I’ve had the opportunity to prepare a ten-minute reading for the summer school program at Oakhurst STEAM Academy.  What they call a Harambee reader, is part of a half-hour psyche-up session for about fifty seven-eight-nine year olds.

The picture book I read – about an eight-year old boy learning to play lacrosse – was built around an Aesop’s Fables-type moral about “dependability.”  Reading enthusiastically was a reminder of the SHOWTIME! of doing group kickoffs for three years in the scholastic fundraising days.

More directly, reading at Oakhurst stemmed from being aware of the Chetty Study, a Harvard/UC Berkeley project that correlated a link between 4th grade literacy and economic mobility.  Economic mobility is how many children rise from the bottom of one economic quadrille to the top of it as an adult. That study showed Charlotte, NC has the lowest ranking (4.4%) of the largest fifty US cities, so it became an obvious place to put old SHOWTIME! abilities to good use.

My bottom-line in volunteering for short, meaningful opportunities to help with reading and writing is always, “Never let it be said…”

That the male voice was appreciated as such a significant factor in this setting wasn’t lost on the previous days reader, Steve Echenique, or myself, because the Freedom School sponsors regularly say its a presence the kids simply don’t get often enough. Bearded college volunteers are one thing, men with ties, yeah, it’s a different visual that counts.

These are actually the luckier kids, both because this program of two-3 week sessions takes some edge off the “knowledge drop” summer often brings, and there is a cereal and biscuit, milk/juice, fruit cup breakfast to start the day with.

For parents who don’t always know whether their kids are touched by enough of the right information you’ve tried providing for situations that may come,  this audience raised their hands and responded. Having that level of connection with an energized and attentive group, it *should* put a little hop in your day.

Eye contact is at a premium in such presentations. 99% of the time, moving through your group and not just pontificating from behind a podium works best.

Having introduced the idea of writing this story for them based on Aesop’s “morals,” and shown them the covers of the binder really had nothing to do with the 8-year old boy in my story, two girls provided the correct moral, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Extend  the positive vibe

Giving some attaboys! to the counselors here, or volunteers at other events, is a legitimate way for speakers to extend  the positive impact of physically being there. Practice your good communications skills someplace besides a networking event. See who looks you in the eye, can articulate their young person ideas, knows why they’re there at 8 a.m. in the middle of June.

One-to-ones with a couple college students in this situation is a freebie – (almost) everyone likes talking about themselves – and nothings lost if you don’t get an impressive response.

Having participated in several Communities in Schools “social capital” programs this spring, complimenting high school students on their speaking without “umms, errs, y’knows” as out of the ordinary – and a factor easily noticed by adult others – was definitely a simple, effective teaching moment.

Communications: Oyster Roast meeting

Even as a homogeneous group of older guys in a community projects organization, it took over two hours to work through operational Q&A regarding our 5th annual Oyster Roast Wednesday night.

Oyster Roast is a mature product – we were tweaking things, not debating whether an idea will accomplish certain financial goals, or whether to attempt it at all. When 16 guys show up mid-week though, its a good problem to have a quantity-quality number of opinions in steering the club.

After working with friends and members on dozens of similar projects over the years, you develop a sort of shorthand communication,  where a nod, thumbs up, or quick comment lets them know you’re clear on/in favor of what they just discussed, even if others might still be talking.

That doesn’t happen immediately, but having history with individuals usually makes things work easier. The fact we often view opportunities and challenges with very similar results-oriented reasoning or career training, is an organizational strength to draw on.

When it came to how the low-country boil is done for the Oyster Roast, the President answered as the man responsible for that aspect of four previous OR’s. The Community Development VP ticked off his list of pricing, marketing, and What abouts? as the guy who brought the unique idea to start with, and welcomes input like this to tweak the positives.

Finally, its elementally a 1-1 world. Speaking with the Prez about a specific lack of cooperation related to donuts at Meet & Greets after the official meeting, he said a roadblock for several years has been mostly negotiated with a parish official. The results, more suited to our needs without making a single change in an established system, was good news to end the day.

That operational block had bothered me for a while, and now its been pretty well fixed. Hurrah! for good communications.

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Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talents Enterprises 
(704) 502-9947