The smell of fresh popcorn wafts through the air. Sounds of laughter, chanting, and bliss ring through the early evening. Kids ride their bikes through big mud puddles after an intense late summer thunderstorm. Women wearing colorful tights leap onto the shoulders of their acro-yoga partners. Meditation circles gather. Homemade ginger ale and sweet and savory grilled sandwich squares are shared late into the night.
The annual Labor Day event, Floyd Yoga Jam, embodies many of the Small Acts I practice and encourage. The three day yoga and music festival in the rolling Appalachians just outside Floyd, VA, blends the spiritual and health benefits of yoga with fantastic musical entertainment, delicious local food, handmade crafts, and most importantly, freedom of experience. It is a place we, the Peacecorn Crew, call home. It’s a realm of magic, timelessness, adventure, challenge, and growth.
Being the third year popping up at YoJam, we knew the ropes, the tricks, and the Peacecorn tent looked better than ever! We saw many familiar faces and debuted a new flavor, The Floyd Favorite, which was a big hit! Peacecorn, for some of you who may not know, serves organic gourmet flavored popcorn at festivals and events. The founder, Pam, came up with the idea back in 2012, debuted it at the 2013 YoJam, and since then we have slowly evolved the idea and mission of Peacecorn. Pam has been a huge inspiration, and mentor of sorts, to me for this campaign, my business, and my life. My appreciation for her, her courage, and her energy are beyond words.
When I first helped her build the Peacecorn website a few years ago, we weren’t really sure what the business stood for and where it was going. We knew it was something beyond just serving popcorn at festivals. As time has passed, and Pam has established herself in the Sarasota, FL community, she’s come to realize Peacecorn is about building a relationship with your food and supporting local economies and sustainable agriculture. We both love kids and wanted to incorporate some aspect of helping kids learn about food, eating healthy, and what it means to be an entrepreneur.
Pam volunteers and teaches kids about gardening and food at an after school garden club. At YoJam we were a popular kid’s spot. The older kids would come by and take the “Peacecorn Workshop.” We’d teach them how to make the various popcorn flavors, how to put it in the box, and engage with customers. We talked to them about what it means to be an entrepreneur and how to grow a business. We let them be a little independent when we felt they knew the ropes well enough. Of course, we also gave them free popcorn for helping us out! Influencing and teaching the next generation in a positive way is definitely a Small Act worth practicing if you have the time and energy.
Relationships and pilgrimages
Beyond the kids, the yoga, and the music, Peacecorn serves as a hub for making connections. We open our hearts and minds and we’re always gifted the privilege of meeting someone new who can further enrich our lives. These new relationships often allow us to mutually support each others’ missions. We are a gathering place for whomever wants to share in our fun and hospitality. We’ll serve you delicious popcorn, but we’ll also engage with you in a conversation about a changing food industry, the transition movement, or how you can make a difference by practicing Small Acts.
We make our pilgrimage to this place each year to remind ourselves of the Small Acts we should be practicing and to engage in the Labor of Love, so synchronously the theme of the festival this year. Katie Silcox said during her Saturday morning yoga class, something along the lines of, you can’t find bliss, nirvana, or enlightenment without digging into the parts of you that are hurt and repressed first: it hurts be human. She gifted me this bit of insight, a Small Act to practice. She shared the concept that I need to be there for myself, the way I would be for a lover or a best friend; to be ready to hold the hand of that small child that’s still so afraid and broken inside me until I’m strong enough to let go and move out of the past; to forgive myself for “wronging” others, and forgive those who have “wronged” me; to let myself know: "I’m here for you."
Love the bad wolf: feed the good wolf
I’ll never be perfect at this, but it’s a step, a Small Act, in the right direction. Each year I’ve journeyed to this festival, I’ve learned something life changing, and that was it for me. It was the golden nugget I needed right then and there. It prepared me with a tool I’d need later, when life would unfold circumstances that might have melted me down in the past. Maybe that small scared child still threw a temper tantrum, but I was there holding her hand, telling her, “I’m here with you, and I’m not going to let go. Everything will be ok,” and it was, and is. So I will build off this new foundation and continue to face, and work to accept, my dark side. In doing so, I will feed the good wolf because the dark parts make me who I am, they make me whole, and thus are all deserving of my love and support.