In demand-pull systems, emergence is inevitable and beautiful – as Karma Kitchen continues upping the goodness in Berkeley week in and week out, a group of volunteers in Washington D.C. are fired up for an experiment of their own in generosity! This Sunday, the India Polo Club, a Nepali-Indian restaurant in downtown D.C., will open its doors from noon to 3 and volunteers will serve a vegetarian meal on a total pay-it-forward basis. So if you or someone you know will be in the area, tell em to drop in!
What’s amazing is that none of the core volunteers, the restaurant manager, or the owner have ever been to Karma Kitchen. That, I suppose, is the contagiousness of the gift economy – and the power of its example. In D.C., something very interesting happened:
Krishna, a restaurant manager who had been seeking a way to deepen in service, came across Karma Kitchen and was joyously surprised to find a way to give that was far closer to home than he thought. And where circumstances are ripe, things organize quickly: with his friend and restaurant owner, Arbinda, Krishna got in touch with Nipun, who happened to be coming into town for the Green Festival. Their first meeting included about a dozen other do-gooders that Nipun brought together, and the rest was history. Strangers became acquaintances became friends and shared their own heartwarming stories of goodness in ways both big and small. Nipun shared the story of Karma Kitchen and the idea of multiplying goodness with more goodness – and voila – Karma Kitchen DC was born ...
So people who didn’t all know each other came together to grow in generosity and to serve other people they don’t know. And the model remains the same: every Sunday, during this pilot, a dynamic group of ten volunteers will come together to serve unconditionally and create an experience of goodness, community, and trust for guests – unsuspecting or otherwise – that walk in. Guests will be greeted with an environment loaded up with touches of inspiration and a Kindness Table, where things are offered as gifts to be paid forward. Volunteers will constantly be on the lookout for ways to step up their tags (a.k.a. Anonymous Acts of Kindness), and of course, those coming in will also be reaching within and paying it forward in their own inspired ways.
Karma Kitchen D.C. is certainly starting off with KK Berkeley’s learnings as a launching pad -- in fact several folks are coming in from out of town to participate in the launch, including a few of us from the Bay Area. And though there is a common vision that very consciously ties these two experiments coherently together, each manifestation (like Karma Kitchen DC) has its unique beauty and will surely contribute to the greater good in its own way!