by Debra on May 15, 2013

A few weeks ago, The Professor and I were basking in the incredibly photogenic hills of Murietta, California where Maggy, Pam and Erika threw one heck of a party; we were there to shoot video and capture the essence of the Big Potluck experience as well as lend a hand to help wherever we were needed.


I’d attended the very first Big Summer Potluck nearly four years ago when Smith Bites was only 8 months old; I didn’t know anyone, was still getting the hang of social media and hadn’t traveled to an event like this without The Professor. There were about 40 of us that hot and sticky August day; white folding chairs were set in rows; husbands, moms and boyfriends were recruited to be the extra hands and feet of hospitality. Attendees did indeed, bring food: cookies, muffins, salads were shared as well as a big dose of kumbaya as we gathered in that sunlit space with warm wood floors, tall glass windows and wrap-around decking. I’ve attended other conferences since then – and I’ve enjoyed each one for various reasons but my heart will always fondly remember that first BSP.


Taking The Big Potluck on the road this year was a first for the trio and it didn’t disappoint; each speaker brought nuggets of inspiration to the table and I saw many heads nodding, fingers scribbling furiously to capture words and phrases that resonnated – and as always, cameras snapped away and pictures were posted to instagram. But I will also tell you that one of the highlights for me was hearing Jeannine Harvey of ONE-moms and Barrett Ward of livefashionABLE share about the women and children their organizations work to support. Believe me when I say, it was not only a highlight of the weekend, but meeting both Jeannine and Barrett has been life-changing – I cannot stop thinking about these women, who live on another continent and whom I’ve never met – The Professor and I hope to have the opportunity to work with Jeannine and Barret in the future as we both believe in using our voice to speak for those who can’t.


I’m being honest when I say that Big Summer Potluck set me on a journey I never dreamed I’d experience – the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet, the traveling The Professor and I have been able to do and the kind of work we are deeply passionate about – telling stories. Smith Bites has never been about a ‘recipe’ – and while we certainly post recipes, our mission has always been about telling stories – yours, mine and ours. We write, we photograph and we shoot video in an effort to tell those stories as best we can in a way that will make you laugh, cry, inspire and maybe even encourage someone else to go out and change the world.

I read this post last week that has set itself squarely in my heart and I cannot shake it; the ultmate question was, ‘Friend, what are you wasting your life on?’ The upshot of the post is that a reader wrote and said she was ready to quit ‘wasting her life’ on her family, her husband and her children – she wanted to follow her dream of being a photographer and wanted to enroll in one of their classes. I highly recommend you take a few moments to read the full post and then answer that question for yourself.


My own short answer is this: all of the above. You who come here to read our words, you who look at our photographs, you who watch our videos, you who reach out on twitter and/or facebook, you who allow us the privilege of telling your stories – you. The Professor and I are ‘NOT wasting our lives’ on you, on living each day as present as possible, connected to you.

The Big Potluck is many things: friendship, love, connectedness, food, laughter, tears, sharing, giving and much, much more. I hope The Professor and I can ‘waste our lives’ on many more – and we thank each of you for being a part of this big, big family.

I hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to watch the video piece above – and be sure to watch all the way to the end, including the credits – we’ve added a couple of fun surprises!