So, the ancient Greeks were really into hospitality. Any visitor could be a god in disguise, so each visitor had to be treated like an honored guest. Gods tended to be vindictive if they were not greeted with warmth. (I mean...they were into hospitality for people who were not enslaved, prisoners of war, women, etc...but you get it.)
a full plate of food, sweet wine, and shelter
There was a formula for Greek hospitality. When a person came to your home or camp, they were to be welcomed with a full plate of food, (much!) sweet wine, and shelter. These things were supposed to be provided before the host asked the visitor who they were or why they'd come to the host's doorstep. One of my favorite poetic versions of this happens in The Odyssey.
Telemachus, Odysseus' son is searching for his father. His search takes him to the a beach in Pylos, where he comes across a large group of men sacrificing bulls in a religious ritual. When the sacrifice is over, the men sit around fires to eat the meat from the sacrificed bulls and drink sweet wine.
Telemachus approaches one of these fires. It's presided over by Nestor, the King of Pylos. Nestor's sons sit by the fire with him. Nestor did not know who Telemachus was, had no intimation he is the son of Odysseus. Still he invited Telemachus to take shelter by the warmth of the fire, to eat the meat from their great sacrifice, and to drink deeply. It is only after those things have been accomplished that Nestor says,
"Now that our visitors have eaten well, it is fitting to question the strangers and ask them who they are. Friends, who are you? Where do you sail from over the sea-roads? Are you on business, or do you roam at random, like pirates who chance their lives to bring evil to others?"
Are you here on business? Or are you here to hurt me and my people?
Even with his sons gathered around him, Nestor put his code of hospitality first. He trusted he could do this because it wasn't just his code of hospitality, it was his region's code. He felt a visitor would be bound by it too. A visitor needed to act like a guest. It's interesting that Nestor asked those questions. He asks them because the answers did matter. He needed to know if his land was at risk. If Telemachus was intent on bringing evil, Nestor would have defended himself and his people. But Telemachus' intent had nothing to do with Nestor's duty to feed him.
But Telemachus' intent had nothing to do with Nestor's duty to feed him.
Of course, a guest potentially being a god was not the only reason this radical hospitality was practiced. In a fractured landscape with plenty of real life monsters, ensuring that each home was a way station through a socially-enforced custom of welcome made real sense. This (often very short-lived, let's be honest) moment of assumed good intent was also vital for networking and alliances in a region with little other than custom to hold everyone together.
Radical sense of hospitality did not die, or originate, with the ancient Greeks. Other cultures practice their own radical versions of welcome. But in America? In America, we do not have widespread social custom of hospitality. I've argued that we should. And a lot of my work on homeculture over the next year will interrogate what that could mean. But for now?
I want to welcome you, you gods and goddesses in disguise. I want to welcome you before I ask who you are or why you are here. This newsletter is a way station in a fractured landscape. I assume your good intent and you assume mine. And then we'll sit together and learn how we can work together.
This newsletter is a way station in a fractured landscape.
I cannot offer you fire-roasted meat from a sacrificed black bull. I do not have a golden bowl of sweet wine to pass your way. And until we're all vaccinated, inviting you to stay in my house might be unwise (and rather crowded).
But I do have a collection of beautiful, community-driven home goods I would like to give to one of you. Each item was picked because it felt like it belonged in a home big enough for all of us. None of these lovely goods were acquired through "collaboration" for "exposure". Makers deserve to get paid and so I'm paying for each one myself.
None of these lovely goods were acquired through "collaboration" for "exposure". Makers deserve to get paid and so I'm paying for each one myself.
There are two items that do not fund independent creators. One is a candle, that I just had to include because it's called "New Home" and this is our new home. The other is the miniature kitchen of my dreams, and while it is not made independently, I am purchasing it through the PBS Store so that the purchase supports public television. Altogether this little giveaway is worth $500 in financial terms, but in other ways I think it's worth much more.
I wish I could give this collection to every single one of you. I promise to hold more giveaways. But I also promise to find more creative, tangible ways to warm your home. Thank you so much for being here. When it is at its best, I hope homeculture is a feast, a refreshment and a shelter from the storm. A few of my favorite homeculture essays that do just that can be found here.
When it is at its best, I hope homeculture is a feast, a refreshment and a shelter from the storm.
Entering the giveaway is easy. One winner will be chosen randomly. There are multiple ways to enter to increase your odds of winning! Scroll to learn about the collection of home goods below.
Want to enter first? Great! You can enter right now, right here before you even check out the housewarming gifts. Or you can enter at the bottom of the page after you've fallen in love with every single lovely item.
The Immigrant Cookbook
collected and edited by Leyla Moushabeck
"What would the Southwest be without its piquant green chili pepper sauces and stews, New York City without its iconic Jewish delis, Dearborn without its Arab eateries, or Louisiana without the Creole and Cajun flavors of its signature gumbos and jambalayas? Imagine an America without pizza or pad Thai, hummus or hot dogs, sushi or strudel--for most people, it wouldn't taste much like America at all."
The Immigrant Cookbook was collected and edited as a fulsome feast of a response to the anti-immigrant rhetoric snaking through so much of America. The recipes are vibrant and accessible. The photos are gorgeous. And a portion of every sale goes to support the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. Delicious.
New Home Candle
Homesick describes this candle as smelling like,
Fresh linen, clean air, a blank canvas all to your own. An empty house filled with possibilities and countless memories waiting to be made.
I've never moved into a new home that smelled that way? I mean, I've only ever moved into old homes that were new to me. But I like the idea of a New Home smell. It sounds like a crisp freshness I'd like to approximate with a candle in the middle of my home that generally smells more like dinosaur nuggets and children's feet.
$60 Restoration House Gift Shop Gift Card
a found object home goods shop by Kennesha Buycks
Kennesha Buycks is one of my favorite home makers. For years, she's taught us how to make a home through grace, memories and connection. (She even wrote a whole book on it!) When she opened Restoration House Shop, my heart leapt. It's a space full of found objects she's collected, each one intentionally chosen for its capacity to impart meaning and gather memories. I can't wait to see what chosen object you choose from her sanctuary of a shop.
The Boy and the Sea
A picture book meditation on curiosity, wonder, and finding one’s way. In this lyrical picture book, readers follow one boy through his life as he returns to the seashore beside his home. The boy likes to think, and his thoughts turn into questions. He brings these questions to the sea.
Abrams calls The Boy and the Sea "a celebration of quiet curiosity". It's a perfect description. It is peaceful while plumbing the depths of questioning even when there are no answers. This picture book is a gorgeous meditation for all ages, for anyone who has every sought an answer. I am especially moved because it is a depiction of a boy gracefully seeking in the midst of complicated thoughts, feelings and circumstances. Boys are not represented this way often enough. What a needed joy.
$50 Gift Card to The Rachet Hipster
a full-service online houseplant boutique by botanical curator, Donna Katrice
Donna Katrice is a Botanical Curator and her shop is a botanical wonder. The Rachet Hipster offers in-person and online houseplant consulting, house plant subscription boxes (they even have a pet-friendly version!) and gorgeous plant and planter pairings. On her site, Donna writes that caring for plants in her home helps her survive when there is so much chaos outside of her home.
She has 80 house plants thriving in her New York City home. When I read about her plant-work, I picture Donna as Eve and her indoor garden as the possibility of creation. When I order plants from Donna, it feels like some of that possibility is being seeded in my home too.
$18 Bravery Magazine Gift Card
Bravery Magazine is a quarterly print publication for kids that features a brave woman in each issue.
I adore Bravery Magazine, and not just because I got to write a piece for their issue on Yusra Mardini. Each issue of Bravery focuses on one amazing woman. It's called Bravery Magazine, but these beauties have the physical quality of a long-lasting book. They've got the spiritual quality of one too. Each is brimming with a biography of the woman highlighted, historical context, illustrations, activities and calls to community action.
Bravery's next issues features Bernice Bing, a queer Chinese American artist and activist. I learn something new from her piece, Mayacamas No. 6 each time I see it.
Limited Edition Fine Art Print by Leslie Duke
signed, numbered and titled
I love Leslie Duke's work for so many reasons. Each piece is a carefully composed exploration of texture and color. With her understanding of texture, with her comfort with color, Leslie could paint grand scenes. But she chooses to paint everyday objects - the oranges that sit on our counters, an apple, a little bird with little apparent significance. She creates fine art out of things my hands touch every day, things my eyes see every day. Duke's work sees the weight of small things.
I wish I could commission an original for each of you. But for now, I am so pleased to offer an limited edition print. When the winner of the giveaway gets their $70 Leslie Duke gift card, they'll be able to look through her limited prints and pick one that that suits their space.
Bite-Sized Black History Program + One License to Share with A Classroom in your Community
by Jasmine Bradshaw, host of The First Name Basis podcast
Bite-sized Black History is a curriculum that includes "12 bite-sized podcast episodes, coloring pages, and reflection questions" to help children learn about Black history. It is accessible, fun and definitely not just for Black History Month. Black history in America is American history and belongs in every month, in every home. I am also giving away one license with this so that you can share Bite-sized Black History with a classroom in your community. Our homes extend so far beyon our four walls, and so our home work should too.
Bite-sized Black History was developed by Jasmine Bradshaw, the host of The First Name Basis podcast. Do you listen to First Name Basis yet? You should. It gives "parents the tools they need to teach their children about race, religion and culture." Anti-Racism in the Wild with Preethi Harbuck is one of my favorite episodes.
$50 Nehiyanahk Creations Gift Card
Indigenous owned and designed beadwork by Jalynne Geddes
Nehiyanahk Creations is a vibrant collection of fine jewelry created by Jalynne Geddes. Every piece feels like an act of Creation. Jaylnne restocks her shop when each new collection is ready and then closes her shop until the next collection. There is an intentionality to her work, an unwillingness to rush creation that perpetually moves me.
I thought about telling you how much I love Jalynne, how much I've learned from her, how desperately I want to frame a pair of her earrings to hang above my desk - her beadwork is some of the finest art I've ever seen. (And I suppose I just did tell you those things.) But instead, let's have Jaylnne introduce herself,
"I’m a Nehiyaw woman from Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation, Treaty 6 Territory. Nehiyanahk means Cree Country and I hope to infuse my Nehiyaw (Cree) sensibilities and traditions into my beadwork. Beading is how I carry on our storytelling traditions.
I currently live on the traditional sites of the tribes of Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, and Molalla.
My beadwork is meant for everyone. However, I do ask anyone non-Indigenous to be a good relative, to understand how precious beadwork is to our community, and to understand that these are heirloom pieces. I create first as medicine for myself; being able to share that medicine is an unexpected blessing that I do not take lightly.
Beadwork is an investment. A great deal of love, emotion, time, and even physical exertion goes into creating and designing each piece. Price is something heavily contemplated and assessed. It reflects the labour and uniqueness of each product.
Spread a good fire, relatives. Kinanaskomptin for being here."
Nehiyanahk Creations next restock is on May 28th.
4 newsletter subscriptions
supporting women who write
I cannot ask for support as a writing woman without supporting writing women. I subscribe to MANY newsletters and over the next year will give away more subscriptions to more of my favorites.
For now, I am giving a one month subscription to Roxane Gay’s The Audacity Anne Helen Petersen’s Culture Study and Gabrielle Blair’s Design Mom . Also a year-long subscription to Ann Friedman's newsletter to begin and end all newsletters. The paid version of Friedman's newsletter includes her pie charts, which bring me great joy.
Tiny Kitchen DIY Kit
purchased from PBS and helping to fund access to public television
Honestly, I am including this DIY miniature kitchen kit because it brings me so much damn happiness. It's like a puzzle?! That is a dollhouse?! LOOK AT THOSE TINY GRAPEFRUIT SLICES. IT LIGHTS UP?! LOOK AT THE ITTY BITTY JAM JARS. Sometimes I wish the home was a simple diorama I could arrange instead of a big, unwieldy concept without proper window dressings. This little tiny dream of project is a way to live out that fantasy.
Entering the giveaway is pretty easy and, of course, free. While a subscription to homeculture is a mandatory step for entrance, a paid subscription/membership is absolutely not necessary. (Why is there a paid option if homeculture can free? Read about how paid subscriptions can pay for my childcare AND keep homeculture accessible for everyone.) Already subscribed? Great! You can still enter! Just follow the directions in the fun little widget linked below.