If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I’m a bit obsessed with Bill McKibben’s book Deep Economy. This is because McKibben so clearly articulates a vision for a future that is livable, community-based, and joyous–a future that will destroy neither the planet nor the lives of its inhabitants. His book is both practical and visionary: both a blueprint for creating a healthier society and an exploration of what that means.
And so, when I recently attended Cupcake Camp Boston, I couldn’t help but see it as one delicious example of a deep economy: a tiny, tasty model of a society built around community connection rather than profit.
Cupcake Camp promotes both local businesses and community togetherness, with a good helping of buttercream frosting. The basic idea is that you pay a small fee to sample a certain number of cupcakes from local bakeries. (Ironically enough, I didn’t end up eating a single cupcake! By the time I arrived, tickets were sold out, so I just wandered around. A few of the booths gave me cupcakes despite my lack of a ticket, but I was too full from breakfast to eat them, so I was planning to save them for later…until they started getting all melty, so I gave them away instead.)
In addition to the cupcakes themselves–which are both a great deal for the consumers, and great publicity for the bakers–there were all sorts of fun, free activities, including a cupcake relay race and a cupcake eating contest!
There was also Zumba, led by instructors from a local studio. It was hot, sweaty, un-self-conscious, booty-shaking fun.
A few little girls joined in, and won the Taza chocolate bar that was awarded for most enthusiastic dancing.
And there was a local brass band, Hornography, playing a wonderful combination of pop, rock, and hip-hop: from “Call Me Maybe” to “Forget You” to “Buddy Holly” (hells yeah 90s rock) to “The Distance” (yes, a song by Cake, at a cupcake festival!).
When they played “Sexy And I Know It,” they changed the lyrics to “I like cupcakes and I know it.” “Girl, look at those cupcakes…”
Off to the side, a couple was swing dancing.
I sat in the shade blowing bubbles, while an adorable little curly-haired boy ran around popping them.
And I thought, this is community. This is what a deep economy looks like.
Music, dance, food, sunshine, frolicking children, being together as neighbors, a general spirit of fun and laughter. The chance to support local businesses for those with $7 to spare, and plenty of free fun for those without (or those, like me, who just showed up too late).
Creating a durable society involves both hard work and fun–because a society can’t be sustainable without joy (or cupcakes).
Here’s my cupcake-themed outfit:
Top: Lane Bryant, belt: Re/Dress, capris: Target, skirt: eBay a million years ago, sandals: Clark’s, glitter bow: Crown & Glory, necklace: Kuma Crafts, cupcake hairclip worn as pin: Sick for Cute, earrings: the Brookline Booksmith (yes, it’s a bookstore that also sells tchotchkes and accessories!), spike wristband: Hot Topic, beaded bracelet: homemade, sunglasses: Sweet & Lovely, tote bag: Borders