Last month, I was invited to a moment of rejuvenation.

And what could be more rejuvenating than good company + good food?

At the serene Ecce art gallery, I felt honored to mingle amongst a group of change-makers within the Fargo-Moorhead community.

Photo by Dr. Amy Ganguli
Rejuvenation 2012 was hosted by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This annual event aims to rejuvenate community members active in improving the community from all facets.
As an individual who has spent most of my life, post-college, working in helping professions or studying within a helping profession graduate program, I have first-hand experience with compassion fatigue.  
Though compassion fatigue may sound sinister, it’s really no different than the garden variety of “burn-out” that effects anyone, in any profession, who is not practicing adequate self-care.
I developed a whopping case of compassion fatigue from supporting urban ministry, planning weddings, coordinating funerals, working at a crisis phone line, and then studying psychology, all while not practicing adequate self care.  Although I aspire towards practicing empathy and compassion, I learned that food is my preferred medium to connect with others.  Food is what really lights me up inside.  
Speaking of food, we were treated to a thoughtful spread catered by The Green Market.  As we listened to Dr. Jacqueline Busse, professor at Concordia College, Moorhead, MN discuss her quest to learn what sustains individuals through challenges and heartache, we sipped mango tea and fair trade coffee.  
I listened to my tablemates talk about what inspired them within Fargo-Moorhead and thoroughly enjoyed munching on a completely, non-obligatory veggie tray.  With crunchy fennel, elegant cucumber planks, broccoli rabe, and paper-thin flat bread, we chased a creamy, sinus-tingling horseradish dip around our dainty plates.  We also selected from an assortment of crostinis from platters as pretty as stained glass windows.  A welcome relief for tired palates.  
I had saved some fresh horseradish root I found in the fall at the Minneapolis Farmers Market before our move and had planned to try to replicate The Green Market’s spicy horseradish dip.  This morning, I was dismayed to find I had stored it incorrectly and it was unusable.   
Still feeling a bit homesick, my spirits lifted as I listened to my table mates speak about their involvements and interests with the new Jeremiah Project, an organization also in the Twin Cities empowering single mothers, The Churches United for the Homeless, a huge local effort by congregations across denominations sheltering and supporting homeless individuals, the Human Rights Commission, and Cass Class Food Systems Initiative, in which community members work with the government to improve access to local and healthy food.  
I’m not going to lie.  I’ve had challenges adjusting to life in Fargo.  However, I felt a sense of hope for our new life in Fargo.  These community members were sustained by inspiration they found in each other.  I too felt energized amongst this packed gallery of individuals who practice what they preach and actively working towards positive community change.
Food-related efforts in this community include farmers markets, increasing the ease of EBT card use at farmers markets, healthier school lunches, planting school and community gardens, supporting CSA’s, launching the area’s first co-op, encouraging urban agriculture and city chickens. . . just a few of my favorite things.  Yes, I am still annoyed that I can’t grab a roasted pork bahn mi on the fly and that chain restaurants are always packed beyond belief.  But I am rejuvenated by my new food adventures and knowing I dwell in the company of individuals passionate about social change in all areas, including food and beverages.  
Since it was a weeknight, the event lasted just long enough to instill in us a sense of rejuvenation before heading home.  We said our goodbyes as we munched on tiny meringues dotted with chocolate chips and nuts, and delicate short breads.
How do you rejuvenate?