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Cassia Park was filled with festivities focused on international elements this past Saturday, June 2, 2012 to celebrate the 3rd annual Central Bench Festival. This year, the park had booths and food stands from around the world, including: Mexican tacos, Navajo frybread, Nepalese dumplings, Southern soul food, and freshly blended smoothies from Tree City Juice. Fruit, in and of itself, is an international delight, so Tree City Juice blended in well amongst the other vendors – pun intended.
“This was really a perfect time for this,” commented Liisa Itkoven, a local preschool planner and supporter of Communities in Motion. It is always a good time to connect with your community, and learn about the different cultures that comprise that community.
Many other local issues were raised. Steven Tornga, a first timer to the festival, who taught me a little bit about the various non-profits being represented, felt it was “a nice way to get people out.” His focus was on the quality of life of Boise residents and how future legislation will alter that quality of life. “That’s the scary part, that Boise could change.”
From the “Meet the Candidates” booth to the music stage featuring traditional Indian song and dance, this was an event that wasn’t just focused on filling a Saturday with face paint and french fries – though that was available.
Instead, this event was focused on paying it forward, on supporting those who support others. It was a gathering organized by Neighborhood Associations that want more for future generations.
As I walked past the collection of flags from around the world, I struck up a conversation with Robert, a freelance photographer. He had mentioned, in regard to neighborhood association festivals that, “this is the first one that I’ve heard about in years and years” and how it is neat to see what people are capable of organizing when they care about their community.
With the rhythmic drumming bursting from the sound system, I wandered behind the stage to the “musicians and volunteers only” tent, underneath being a table filled with various carbohydrate yummies. Peeling my eyes from the pastries, I looked up to find a poem that was written for the performers to read before going on stage:
“One act can make all the difference,
Like ripples in a pond
Kindness spreads outward
reaching and touching others
and can change a life forever.”
– Laurie Eytel
And that is when it struck me. Even thought there is great food, music, and free stuff up for grabs from the booths, this event serves the ultimate purpose: for us to share these wonderful things together, strike up conversations with neighbors we may not have met, and share the kindnesses we receive from strangers.