K is for Karma Kitchen
Imagine walking into a restaurant where there are no prices on the menu. Oh oh, is this one of those posh French restaurants? Then imagine your surprise when presented with the bill – and there’s nothing to pay. A note on the bill explains: "Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those who dine after you." No, you’re not dreaming . . . you’re in a Karma Kitchen.
Karma Kitchen is described as “a volunteer-driven experiment in generosity.” It took hold in just 2 weeks back in March of 2007 in Berkeley California when a handful of volunteers decided to “be the change” they wanted to see in the world. They hired a restaurant on a Sunday, prepared and cooked the meals, served their customers with a smile, and put the “gift economy” into practice. No one was required to pay. You were simply invited to “pay forward” towards someone else’s meal in the future.
In the past eight years, the Karma Kitchen has served nearly 50,000 meals with volunteers contributing nearly as many hours of their time. And, the Karma Kitchen has gone global with openings in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan. Each follows that basic recipe of “service with a smile”, “pay forward”, and the spirit of volunteerism. And each has been creating a buffet of stories.
Volunteers gather in a sharing circle before and at the end of their shift to check in with each other and share stories. Laughter and tears are shared, a sense of community is formed. Many of these stories find their way onto the Karma Kitchen website (www.karmakitchen.org) where you can also find instructions and encouragement for starting your own Karma Kitchen.
I worked in the kitchen of a music coffee house back in the 70s and I can vouch for the camaraderie and stories that we shared so I can easily imagine the spirit generated by the Karma Kitchen concept and crew. And from the many grateful stories and smiling faces in the videos, I would recommend you check out the Karma Kitchen as soon as possible. You just might be moved to start your own or apply their “experiment in generosity” to your own area of work.
If you do, please share your story with me and I’ll help spread the word.
Learn more at www.karmakitchen.org. For other great videos check out www.globalonenessproject.org