Bâtonage Forum

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Anytime a group of people assemble to hear, encourage, and support each other, I am moved. The pure act of showing-up to a group of strangers with an open-mind, takes a small act of bravery. I recently had the privilege of attending the first annul Bâttonage Forum, a conference built from the desire of a small group of women to create a space to begin a conversation; a conversation about the challenges and opportunities facing women in the wine and hospitality industry. Stevie Stacionis, Samatha Sheehen, Nicole Ruiz Hudson, and Sarah Bray put together the most beautiful expression of a grass-roots effort, #ladyboss-doyennes-of-hospitality style, by gathering leaders in our industry to speak on panels, and hosting all of us amidst the family vineyards with crave-able beverages (I can’t stop thinking about the momenpop pamplemousse spritzer) and soulful hearth-cooked beans and pork; sustenance worthy of fueling this lofty and honorable mission.

There were many conversations started this day, but the theme that inspired me the most was to persevere. Believe in yourself, fight for yourself, and take others along with you as a mentor.  The question presented to us was, how are we going to achieve this mindset and what actions are we going to take to create situations that we think to be fair and just? As a member of this community, I definitely walked away from the forum feeling less alone in my own endeavors and proud to be part of a group where so many concerned people showed-up to work toward a more kind and fair tomorrow.

For my part, I find it terrifying to put myself out into a world of strangers. I never feel like I have anything valuable to contribute to a solution- what can I do that somebody else can’t, or isn’t, already doing? I am a quiet voice learning to be less afraid to speak. So what will I do? I look for opportunities to teach- hopefully to inspire- people to gain confidence in the kitchen. It may be a small area, but the kitchen teaches us a lot about life- we have to learn patience; perseverance; organization; giving all ingredients, no matter how humble, the same respect; and most importantly, we learn that we are the boss and, as any cook knows, if we’re not in charge of the flame, we’ll get burned.

So now I put the question to you, dear reader, what can you do make yourself feel more brave, and how can you help somebody else feel the same?