All Hail Kale

I know some people out there still believe there’s some kind of barrier between social media and the F2F world — you know, the physical world where people meet face to face, like at town meeting — but on Martha’s Vineyard this is not true. For many of us, social media and the F2F world mesh together in interesting, sometimes unexpected ways.

throwdown posterTake the Kale Soup Throwdown that happened this past Sunday at the P.A., aka the Portuguese American Club, aka one of the very most important F2F locales on the Vineyard.

The throwdown was conceived, coordinated, and publicized mostly on Facebook, but with plenty of legwork done in the F2F world by flesh-and-blood people.

Back up a couple of steps. Islanders Talk is a very large (five minutes ago it had 4,101 members) Facebook group that describes itself as “a great place for Islanders to hang out and vent, share whatever you want without tourists interrupting!” The MV Stuff 4 Sale group is bigger — currently closing in on 6,ooo members — but it’s focused on buying and selling, not on hanging out and talking and sharing information.

Way before anyone even dreamed of a digital age, island people had a long tradition of helping each other out, in good times and especially in emergencies. We’re still at it.  Emergencies can strike at any time. They can involve anything from health to housing. Thus the idea of the Islanders Talk Benevolent Fund was born, to help friends, neighbors, and kin over the rough spots.

How to fund the fund? Well, chili is the centerpiece of a long-running and very successful fundraiser, the Big Chili Contest sponsored by MVY radio and held every year in deep winter to benefit the Red Stocking Fund. Kale soup is a staple of Portuguese-American cookery, which is to say it’s a staple of Martha’s Vineyard cookery, and has been since long before the health-food people went nuts for kale.

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For a $10 admission, you got a generous sample of all the soups and a ticket you could use to vote for your favorite.

The call went out for the island’s kale soup masters. Meanwhile organizers divvied up the island’s towns to solicit donations for the silent auction. (A copy of my Mud of the Place joined Shirley Mayhew’s Looking Back: My Long Life on Martha’s Vineyard and photographer Lynn Christoffers’s Cats of Martha’s Vineyard as an auction item featuring West Tisbury writers.)

On a picture-perfect Sunday afternoon, attendees were greeted by no fewer than six different kale soups, table after table of silent auction prizes, a raffle for a little tree lavishly decorated with scratch tickets, and a long counter groaning with cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and other sweets.

And by a lively and growing crowd that included both longtime friends and Facebook friends who’d never met face to face before. Oh yeah — and Sabrina and the Groovers provided the soundtrack for browsing, yakking, and eating.

It was, in a word, cool, and it netted $3,627 for the Islanders Talk Benevolent Fund. Even better, Islanders are already Talking about doing something similar in the fall, maybe with barbecue?

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Kale Head 1 and Kale Head 2 — they weren’t kidding about this — dish the soup.

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Dave Oliveira presiding at the soup pot — the Oliveiras’ kale soup won the people’s choice award.


About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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