Living Life au Natural
November 29, 2007
There are a lot of things that are bad for you, but Elizabeth Fiend and her project Big
Tea Party are here to change that. They’ve been around awhile — a decade in fact — helping locals naturalize their daily routines and cut out the unhealthy stuff with videos, workshops, events and a brand-new and improved Web site that provides facts, tips and helpful guidelines to a fulfilling lifestyle.
But what does a “fulfilling lifestyle” mean? Well, that’s exactly what Fiend is here to help you figure out. Her mission (now at anyone’s fingertips at www.bigteaparty.com) is to show by example and demonstration how eating healthy, being mindful of the environment and making small tweaks in daily chores and errands can make a difference.
The site itself is a resource center where people can learn anything from how to grow fresh vegetables in a tiny urban backyard to how to make vegan French toast.
“We’ve made 20 videos about do-it-yourself ways of having a healthier life and basically just having fun,” Fiend said the day after Thanksgiving (for which she had posted a special section about how to cook the feast in a healthy, delicious way). “We’ve made an environmental video for kids. We show people how to have a compost pile even if they live in the city.”
A punk rocker who played the slide guitar in the late 1990s, Fiend had a softer side when it came to her other hobbies. Living in Queen Village, she made crafts, gardened and was a stellar vegetarian cook. So when video editor Valerie Keller, who lives in Pennsport, and camerawoman Gretjen Clausing posed the idea of making movies with Fiend as the host, she ran with it.
A decade later, the ladies are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their project at Molly’s Bookstore, 1010 S. Ninth St., Dec. 8. Big Tea Party will pay tribute to its past — playing some of the first videos the trio ever made — and its future by giving a nod to the Web site.
From 7 to 10 p.m., the store will be open to the public (at a $3 donation fee) to “schmooze,” watch movies and munch on snacks (healthy, of course). And what better place to have such a party than in the heart of America’s oldest open-air market where people come from all over to buy fresh veggies, fruits, spices and herbs.
“It’s a nice thing to get people into the Italian Market on a Saturday night,” Fiend said. “And we wanted to have the event in South Philly — that’s where we live and we love South Philly.”
From her home at the north end of the market, Fiend bikes everywhere, hosts cooking demonstrations in her living room and tends a flourishing garden of edible flowers, elderberries, vegetables and other fresh goodness.
Philadelphia might get a lot of grief for being one of the country’s most unhealthy cities, but Fiend says her experience in South Philly has been a different story.
“People really want to improve their life,” she said. “I know it’s hard to make money to live and get by, so my philosophy is to show people information in a fun and inventive way. And people like that. A lot of people want to change and improve.”
And Big Tea Party, especially through its new site, helps anyone do just that.
“I really go to the root of things,” Fiend said. “People don’t realize how simple it is. All you need are vegetables, whole grains, fruits and water.”
Well those, and maybe a fun party in the Italian Market now and then.