Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony
What do you do?
Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony on the 15th December, encourages people to come together over a "cuppa" (a cup of tea or coffee) and some chocolate and open up conversations around how to be a more inclusive community. It's about people reaching out and sharing with friends, groups, workplaces or organisations; share a cuppa and some chocolate, talk and be open about how they can invite others into their lives. Of course, ideally, if they can reach out to someone new who appears different to them and say “let’s have a cuppa” even better! It is simply in the listening to each other that we break down walls and barriers. This is always much easier over a cuppa.
What do you love most about what you do?
Sharing Chocolate and Coffee together gives us the opportunity to open up and share our own stories with each other. It opens our eyes and our hearts to those in our community who may appear to be different to us. It presents us with the challenge to maybe take a little time and get to know someone who we may have otherwise thought was too different to us to have a conversation with. It opens our hearts to be able to recognise that opposites really are the same.
It is a simple approach and anyone, anywhere can participate, whether they are with a large group, with one or two people or even on their own. They can mark the day on Social Media.
What is the vision for your project/business/cause?
It seems to me that the majority of people are loving and accepting and we want everyone in our community to feel safe and that they are valued, yet, we are the "silent majority". We don't stand up for what we think or believe because it is hard for us to even contemplate that there is any other way of thinking or being. But we do need to have our voice heard. We need to find ways of ensuring that we honour our values and make sure that we express this to all we come in contact with in every way we can. With this is mind, the vision is that people all over the world share in Chocolate and Coffee and take up the challenge to reaching out to someone they thought was just too different to themselves.
What are some defining moments in your life that got you where you are today?
The defining moment for the conception of this idea came from the response of the greater community after a siege at the Lindt Chocolate Café in Sydney in December 2014. The lone gunman claimed to be taking hostages in the name of ISIS. When the siege was over we didn't know how people would respond. Would there be retaliations on the Muslim community.
While we all held our collective breath waiting to see what the response would be, there was a glimmer of light, as people started to reach out to others with #Iwillridewithyou emerged. People all over Sydney and Australia were offering to ride the public transport with Muslim people to ensure that they were safe. The message was clear, you are a valued member of our society and you are not responsible for what one person did.
This moment spoke to me so deeply. This is the society I want to live in. Why do we have to have a tragedy before people step forward and have their voices heard? Why can’t we make it known every day that we want to live in a society that loves and accepts all regardless of race, religion, or culture. And so, Chocolate and Coffee Day was born.
What inspires you to keep focused on what you love to do?
I am passionate about community and people living together in a world where we all feel loved, safe and have a sense of belonging. My core value is the "worth of all persons" and I love the richness that diversity brings to our society.
We live in a time when the fear of terrorism is creating a divided world. We have seen far too much hatred and fear in our history that has led to atrocities that are too horrid to repeat. We can't depend on world leaders to create the peaceful loving world that we all want to live in. It is up to us, as individuals, to step up and have our voices heard that we choose to break down the barriers of religion and culture and create a harmonious community where every person can feel valued and safe.
What are some of the biggest challenges you've overcome so far?
My biggest challenge has been in sharing this message. Media, generally, aren't interested in good news or positive messages. Everyone loves the idea when they hear about it, however don't always grab hold that of the concept that this is something that can do, where they are. That they don't have to do anything more than to share a cuppa and have a conversation. While many workplaces have embraced the idea, getting more of them to open up to it and start the conversations in their workplace that everyone is accepted is always a challenge.
Is there anyone you haven't met yet who is an inspiration to you? What would you say?
There are many people in this world doing inspirational things who are not known on the world stage. These are the people I love to meet and get to know and understand. I love to hear the stories of personal passions that seem to come from nowhere - from what I call Beyond the Why, they have no personal reason for doing this, they see it needs to be done and they grab it with everything they have got and are driven to doing something extraordinary. These stories remind me that we, the ordinary everyday people can all do something extraordinary. We can all make a difference. We just need to respond.
How would you define community and do you feel it is important? Why?
Community is where people have that sense of belonging. We all have a deep need to belong. A community is developed out of this sense of being in a common - unity together. We have something in common, whether it be where we live or work, a sense of values, it comes with a desire to build something greater than ourselves.
When we create community, we remove limitations from our growth potential. We nurture and empower each individual to embrace their own potential and in this we find our greatest potential.
For me, community is something I am very passionate about. It flows into all areas of my life and not something I take for granted. People can live among us and work with us without feeling apart of the community. We have to work at it. Aside from Chocolate and Coffee Day, I have taken the concept of community into my our business to build leadership that inspires community and social mission in business.
What is your favourite place in the world? Why?
I love Estonia. It is the homeland of my Grandfather. Also, in learning about the resilience of the people, I can't help but admire them. Any place that fought for its independence through song (The Singing Revolution) rather than battles of violence gets a big tick from me. There is truly something magical in many ways about this country.
How can people get in touch or participate in your cause?
I can be reached through ChocolateandCoffeeDay.com or Facebook channels. There is an information kit to help with ideas for holding your own Chocolate and Coffee Day on the website.
I can also be reached through my personal website: AndreaPutting.com.au
Please share any words of wisdom that you could offer our readers with the journey you've taken so far?
Overcoming prejudices and differences really can be as simple as sitting down and listening to someone with an open mind and an open heart. Give it a go, you never know where it can lead.
We'd love to know one more thing you absolutely LOVE about your life :)
I love that I am able to use my skills as a Speaker and author to inspire people to come together in community and business to create the world that we all want to live in.
CHOCOLATE & COFFEE DAY FOR RELIGIOUS HARMONY
on the 15th December!