What is a Cultural Engine?
Cultural Engines endeavor to grow healthy communities & ecosystems that are able to meet the needs of all Life, and are thus positioned to peacefully supplant our dying Modern World (a fading system that steals & transports, with great effort, all it needs to survive).
Cultural Engines are groups of people who work together to grow their individual and their community's capacity to empower themselves in all areas of Life. They strive to grow both hubs of living industry (in the form of Homes, sanctuary places, & more), as well as the connections that join these hubs into a powerful network. Through the Engine, we intend to:
The West Philly Cultural Engine
This West Philly Cultural Engine is a vocational training program. We offer & host training in gardens, kitchens, permaculture, and regeneration, in which all are invited to share their gifts for the benefit of all.
The yields of this particular Engine (described in greater detail in the rest of the website) include:
The Engine is also nested inside of a much larger, growing network of community-supported Cultural Engines — that incubate regenerative enterprise, & grow powerful webs of providers & subscribers that exchange plainly valuable goods & services.
We feel the joy & strength of Community Supported Everything.
The West Philly Cultural Engine was started by Frances Rose Subbiondo in 2012 -- learn more about Frances Rose & her collaborator-mate Acorn below, and visit culturalengine.wordpress.com to view our archives.
Patreon is a web platform through which you can support our work with monthly financial donations. There are lots of beautiful rewards for supporters, plus the knowledge that you are fuelling an engine of cultural change!
Help us Build Our Community Kitchen!
We recently moved to a new Home (the House of the Pink Panther) and need to do some big kitchen renovations in order to continue to effectively serve our friends & neighbors in West Philly & beyond. These changes will enable us to host delicious educational food events (always No One Turned Away For Lack of Funds) and will increase our capacity to process & distribute donated foods that would otherwise be wasted. You can learn more about our plans and make a one-time donation via our Go Fund Me page.
At the CSK, we plant the seeds of a more resilient world by sharing skills & knowledge required to prepare amazing food anywhere, while investing in local community & a regenerative food system* that nourishes deeply any place we call Home. Further, we help people connect with a passion for Life, through the shared experience of preparing & enjoying, beautifully sourced, delicious food.
We host regular faemily cook days (themes have included Eritrean, Italian, Japanese, Pizza, & more), collaborative workshops (e.g. Narcan trainings), open to anyone, and also offer a subscription menu of prepared foods & pantry staples that are designed to add depth, zest, and serious nourishment to your day-to-day food world. These include condiments & flavor-boosters (like chili black bean sauce & alli-zinger paste), pantry staples & seasonings (like bone broth & ferments), snacks & dessert (like popcorn extravaganza & glacial chocolate fantasy), sourdough breads (both gluten-full & gluten free), meals (like red lentil dal & ful medames), medicines (like fire cider & ginger dandelion elixir), & specials (apple special! mint special!).
Our Daily Table
Would you like to eat whatever we're enjoying for meals together?! This offering is designed to share the inherent abundance alive in a community food system with you, our CSK community.
How it works :: Simply text us at 732 3o6 84oo and ask if it's a good time to join us for a meal (we're most available for breakfasts & lunches) - we'll then let you know if it's feasible, and if yes, when to come over. The ask on our end is a sliding-scale donation of $4 -14, with a NOTAFLOF (No One Turned Away for Lack of Funds) guarantee.
We'd rather see you eat well, than poorly or not at all, and we enjoy the sharing! <3
FAQ -- Our Daily Table is different from K is for Kitchen's by-reservation Faemily Table dinners
Monday Night Meditations with CSK Nosh & Heart Circle
We co-host a weekly silent meditation, shared meal, and heart circle in the Fairmount weekly. The space is an apartment, so attendance tends to run small. The vibe is chill, familial, restoring, and nourishing.
2401 Pennsylvania Ave, Apt 19A9 (buzz Zamochnick, A.)
door opens 6:15
shared dinner & check-in style heart circle
exit by 8:33
all experience levels welcome!
*all times loose ;)
Accessibility notes :: The building has a door-person, who asks that folks sign-in. Phone/entry is unplugged once the sit begins. The space is wheelchair accessible, though a bit clunkily organized. The space is clothing optional/dress to your comfort. Let us know if you need more specific accessibility details or text us at 732-306-8400 if you want to travel together / meet at the front door and go in together.
Weekly Work Sessions ~ Food Processing & Gardening
Join us in the kitchen! We gladly accept help processing food about once per week. Occasionally there are also opportunities to play together in our community garden plot. These are great ways to learn new skills, hang out with us, & go home with food! As the timing varies, please let us know if you would like to be on a weekly email list that announces all food processing opportunities.
Free food for queer/trans people of color
We welcome queer & trans folks of color to join us for a meal or pick up free food & medicine from the CSK. Email (westphillyCSK@gmail.com) or text (732-3o6-84oo) to inquire.
Frankferd Farms Bulk Buying Club
See description above in the Covid-19 section for all the details.
Join the CSK Mailing List!
Receive our events schedule, food lore, & more
A note on how we operate :: We strive to find a transcendent balance between gathering the financial abundance we need to offer our goods & services, while keeping our offerings accessible to all. It is your sliding-scale donations, time trades, & bartering that keep our kitchen running in the gift economy.
*A regenerative food system is one that heals the planet, and raises the collective health of our shared communities. Meanwhile, we explore the potential of living systems to self-organize, as we add value to our interconnected lives.
**Pssst ... out of the CSK has grown Frances Rose & Acorn's regenerative food business, K is for Kitchen! Check out KisforKitchen.com to learn more, and check out the graphic below to see what all we're up to in the realm of food**
Goals & Intentions of our Food Work
We connect people with a passion for Life through delicious, ethically-sourced food experiences.
We work for liberation for all beings in the realms of food & culture.
We endeavor to uplift the inherent sacredness of food, eating together, and Earth-based cuisines (and their connected cultures) the world over.
We share common forms of connection through food the world-over and across time -- distilling success patterns around nourishment and taste -- to address the trauma & pain of separation felt in the modern world.
We attempt to bridge & (re)weave world wisdom-traditions, by helping to bolster & share vital, contemporary foodways that illuminate collective paths forward through late-stage capitalism & the compounding crises of eco-social collapse.
We leverage privilege to collective advantage.
We ground our food practices in the intimate study of our own ancestral traditions.
We help folks to remove perceived obstacles around their diets, and to grow the vitality of their personal foodways, offering wisdom & knowledge rooted in our own diverse home food practices.
We encourage & hold space for conversations about the connections between food, identity, justice, and resilience.
We illuminate pathways for anyone to connect with personally and/or ancestrally significant foodways in ways that are mindful of the nuances of ethical sourcing practices in current local & global contexts.
We help many people to experience tastes of Home, providing fa(e)miliar, comfortable, and delicious spaces.
We support people in connecting to foods that are nourishing, safe, healthful, & digestible for their bodies, endeavoring to cook for any dietary need/choice/allergy.
We make our offerings financially accessible and cultivate regenerative economies.
Cultural Appropriation & Our Approaches to Food Work
Around Imbolc-tide 2020, we received some important feedback. Our attention was drawn to ways in which our work with food can be experienced as culturally appropriative and harmful, particularly our professional cooking of foodways from cultures with which we have no clear or known ancestral connection.
Receiving this feedback moved us to conduct a deep self-assessment of our food work, with the aim of coming into ever greater alignment with our fundamental goal of serving all Life, as well as the many nested goals that flow from there. Our process included self-reflection, reading & listening to additional resources about cultural appropriation & food, and consulting with colleagues & friends.
The document linked below is the public & open-source result of this self-assessment. We seek here to evaluate & share our approaches to our food work as a whole, which includes the wide range of services offered by West Philly's Community Supported Kitchen (CSK) and the worker-owned cooperative that grew out of it, K is for Kitchen.
We hope that sharing this piece of our journey with you will offer greater context to our overall vision for, and choices regarding, the CSK and K is for Kitchen.
Thank you for your witness, time, and energy.
We cultivate a soil-to-plate approach, meaning we offer deep care & attention to the foods that nourish us & our revolutions, from the moment they are seeds germinating in the soil to the moment they're a transcendent and nourishing meal on our plates. We strive to grow & support local, regenerative food systems, and to become ever more independent from industrial agriculture & multi-national food corporations.
The West Philly Cultural Engine works primarily out of two gardens ::
Markoe Street Memorial Garden - Located near 46th & Kingsessing. This garden was formed as a memorial after a gas explosion killed at least 2 people and levelled four houses in 1974. Frances Rose has been helping to revitalize the garden over the past few seasons, with the help of friends & neighbors, since its last caregivers have encountered mobility issues. It is a precious open space for this small neighborhood of mostly working class African-American folks -- many of whom grew up on Markoe St. -- who are now facing fierce gentrification pressures on both ends of their street (we are presently working with neighbors & other allies to preserve this space as a garden in perpetuity).
Eastwick Community Garden - Located at Island Ave & Bartram Ave. This is a decades old community garden featuring full sun, wet soils, and large plots. We share a garden plot with friends, where we together grow medicinal & culinary herbs, as well as fruit & vegetables. We are also creating a sweet space to simply be -- the center of the garden is a luscious clover path that serves as the floor to our just-begun living willow structure. There is also a rocket stove, fuelled simply by sticks from neighborhood trees, on which we can make teas & snacks out of all our garden grows!
A Vision for a New Garden ... we recently moved to a Home at Regent & S 51st St, and are visioning a resplendent garden on the lot next to the house. Although the lot is presently owned by a developer, we dream of eventually installing a perennial food system & outdoor education space. Imagine fruit & nut trees, neighbors gathered around a grill full of righteous food, and lots of opportunities to get our hands in the Earth.
The Cultural Engine has also supported Faerie Camp Destiny in Vermont in developing a broad-acre perennial food system.
Garden Support, Vocational Training, & Plant Sharing
On hold for now
We offer vocational training! You can come join us in our own garden projects and learn as we all work together.
In addition, we love to share plants! We often have extras available for you to take Home. Get in touch to see what's growing & available.
If you're interested in any of the above, contact us at:
What is Regenerative Culture?
Regenerative cultures are all those that make more & more of what is liberatory and Life-serving possible. They go above & beyond sustainability in that they don't maintain a steady state -- they flourish, thrive, and create exponentially greater possibilities.
An ecological example :: imagine a boulder. A sustainable system is one in which the boulder remains as it is. In a regenerative system, a bit of lichen finds the boulder, and begins almost imperceptibly to break down its surface into something closer to soil. This create the conditions for moss to begin growing on the boulder as well. Before too long, insects become attracted to the new habitat. Following the insects are the birds who eat them, and then the creatures who eat the birds ... and on and on! The ecosystem around the boulder becomes more & more diverse, and as it does so, new possibilities for Life are created. Regeneration is a fundamental quality of Life as we know it.
A human social systems example :: imagine any gathering you recently attended. What would have made the social scene more vital, rich, & welcoming? Perhaps more deep shared breaths to acknowledge moments of gravity ... or remembering to leave an open space in a conversation circle for a new friend to easily step into .. or the conscious expression of gratitude before a meal ... . The possibilities are endless, often deceptively simple, and we hope to cultivate & share as many of them as we can!
Regenerative Culture Decks
Together we are practicing at co-creating a pattern language of regenerative culture -- a magical toolkit of practices that serve Life & help us deepen our individual & collective alignment with all we hold sacred. Anyone can make their own regenerative culture deck. It begins with a stack of blank index cards. As you learn & imagine regenerative cultural tools, write each one on an index card (perhaps with a description of the tool on the back). You can then share your deck with others, reference it in times of need, use it as a divination tool, and perhaps organize it into a pattern language (into whatever ecosystems, mind maps, or categories are helpful). In this way, we together grow & spread cultures that serve Life! Anyone looking for an example of what this all is can visit the Regenerative Culture Google Folder.
Regenerative Culture Jams!
The Cultural Engine hosts Regenerative Culture Jam sessions! We offer an introduction to the concept of regenerative culture and share the methods we have developed for recording & sharing its building blocks (namely, the regenerative culture decks described above). The group assembled then has unstructured time to jam -- to apply regenerative culture to their lives, build decks, arrange decks into pattern languages / ecosystems, and share with all present. Folks tend to leave these spaces enlivened, connected, & with new tools to integrate into their worlds.
Instigate a Regenerative Culture Jam!
Your interest is one of the forces that initiates these events. Please express it to us via email@example.com!
What is Life Design?
Life Design is a facilitated co-working or coaching space where participants apply an intuitive design process & a menu of activities to reach greater clarity about -- and deeper connection to -- the lives (& world in which) we want to live.
Through practical exercises, simple tools, and the principles of regeneration modeled by the living Earth, we consciously design ways to support ourselves & each other. Additionally, we gain greater access to, and grow our ability to share the many gifts we each bring to the world. Further, through collaboration, we may leverage our collective gifts for widespread healing & abundance.
For a sneak peak, check out the Life Design Simple Menu.
Life Design Sessions
The Cultural Engine presently hosts Life Design Sessions - opportunities to practice Life Design and grow our own capacity to offer life design to others.
There is always room for more!
Through Life Design Sessions you may expect...
To level up your own life.
To grow the skills to support friends & clients (& those in between) with Life Design services.
To find yourself in supportive company regularly, enjoying delicious & righteous food. (I envision you practicing Life Design with one another perhaps around our dining room table, enjoying whatever nourishing food happens to be flowing out of the kitchen that day).
To have ample opportunity to practice offering this work to one another (akin to massage school students massaging one another on the regular).
And, moreover, dedicated practitioners can learn ...
To assist anyone perform this work in their own lives.
To work locally or abroad -- as in, from the comfort of your home, by skype, or literally take the work with you wherever you go in the world, offering others high leverage & high-value support towards the goal of coming alive.
To holistically analyze a wide-array of life situations and respond thoughtfully, and backed by Earth’s living wisdom.
To earn money & other valuable forms of capital through this work, on your terms.
If you're interested in practicing Life Design together, contact us at:
Do you have a fierce determination to serve Life on Earth?
The Cultural Engine seeks passionate people who want to grow a vibrant network of sanctuaries, Home places, & hubs of regenerative industry, all while increasing their own capacity to contribute to this work.
Do you ...
If the answer is YES, apprentice with the Cultural Engine!
An apprenticeship can take on many forms, and be tailored to your interests, desires, & needs.
We offer ...
Interested? Follow your heart's calling!
Get in touch with us (Acorn & Frances Rose) at:
Frances Rose started the West Philly Cultural Engine in 2012 -- responding to a felt need for greater community access to spaces dedicated to the co-creation of the better world our hearts know is possible.
The revolution needs people equipped with clear vision, powerful tools, and revolutionary skills. The Cultural Engine was started as a platform to share both vocational- & wellness-training with anyone desiring to accrue practices that tranifest greater love, healing, and growth in the world.
Frances Rose arrived to Philadelphia in early 2012 from New York City, where she had been offering green-collar job training to urban youth -- through a group called Green Collar Futures. She remains, as well, an active participant in the Northeast permaculture community, and has offered a wide array of workshops & presentations on subjects in & around the field of regenerative living. She is presently co-organizingthe Northeast Womyn* in permaculture Gathering, held at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.
She loves to help focalize individuals & communities to both speak & practice well about food, medicine, gardening, bicycling, yoga, compassion, and much much more.
Acorn joined the West Philly Cultural Engine as a fierce collaborator & co-organizer in the fall of 2015. They arrived to the scene with a passion for growing community and a deep yearning to find their role in making a better world possible. Acorn also brought a degree in Social Work, nerdy organizational skills, and experience working in queer, trans, Radical Faerie, & Reclaiming Witch communities. They have made Home & work in Toronto & Vermont before their move to West Philadelphia.
Through their work in the Cultural Engine, Acorn has found many opportunities to grow their skills and level up their personal practices. They went from ...
-barely being able to maintain a house plant to co-tending many acres of food & medicine-producing gardens.
-only knowing how to cook from recipes to having a well-ingrained repertoire of deeply nourishing foods
-having inadequate coping skills for their mental health struggles & spiritual blocks, to having established systems to bring themself back to peace & wellness
Acorn is thrilled to be doing this work, and to find more & more beloveds with whom to share it.