How “The Tea Party” Ruined “Big Tea Party

or how Big Tea Party became

Big Tea Party was founded in 1998 as a 3-minute television show with the tag “cooking, crafts and anarchy.” Eco-punk Elizabeth Fiend was the writer/host; Valerie Keller, editor; Gretjen Clausing on camera; and music provided by More Fiends, the band founded by Elizabeth and her husband Allen Fiend.  Ef kids whole foods resize

Aired on a regular basis on DUTV, the program was an instant success. It charmed people with its quirky editing, and topics like how to make a Checkerboard Cakehow to prevent flats on your bike, even an episode titled How to Talk Like Satan. Ahead of its time, YouTube was not yet invented and it was years before the term sustainable living was known to the masses.

Big Tea founded in 2002 added to the mission with cool do-it-yourself tips, recipes, projects and articles written by Elizabeth Fiend. The website also compiled the top international sustainable living news.

Meanwhile a groovy parade of new videos continued, with special appearances on public television station WYBE, and nationally on satellite-TV via Free Speech TV.

In 2005 Elizabeth reached new highs and audiences with an appearance on “NBC’s The Today Show”, where her vegetarian Cheese Fake sandwich was featured. An episode of the Food Network program Roker on the Road, starring weatherman Al Roker, was filmed in her South Philly home.

eagles hooters camera resize DSCF1602Big Tea Party, now consisting of Elizabeth Fiend and Valerie Keller, had taken off on a truly grass-roots level of Alice in Wonderland style tea party, psychedelic, edge-u-cational fun.

Unfortunately, there was another Tea Party lurking in the background. We can ride this out they thought. But the Tea Party Movement wasn’t actually grass-roots. It was astroturfing (the practice of masking the sponsors of a message to make it appear as though it originates by grassroots participation) and had millions of dollars backing it.

Quickly Big Tea Party was shunned, or misinterpreted. Their inbox was filled with emails telling them Nancy Pelosi is a Nazi, and that President Obama was a Secret Muslim. Their practice of participating in a public school health fair, leading a nutrition workshop, or a video screening was brought to an abrupt halt. The very mention of the brand made people nervous (and not in a good way). Their name didn’t just contain the phrase Tea Party, they were the BIG tea party.

Crying and sadness. Ah fate, how fickle you are.

Some people turn lemons into lemon-aid. But they would turn sour-kraut into cole-slaw.

SLAW > a shredded vegetable mixture, usually tossed and served with a delicious dressing. Yes, that was them — well dressed.

SLAW is a floating-acronym for Sustainable Living Always Works, Sustainable Living Action Warriors, Sustainable Living Always Wins, Sustainable Living at Work, and more (have one send it to us!).

They snapped up the minute dot-me was introduced to the internet. They found people love to say SLAW me. And they had a four letter web address!

SLAW me will continue the mission of community activism, creating educational tools using digital media, the written word, and public events to bring ideas for leading a creative, low-impact, low-cost, politically engaged lifestyle. They’ll continue to embrace the DIY ‘do it yourself’ philosophy which emphasizes the power of the individual.

Although Elizabeth and Valerie are no longer sipping tea, they’re (still) here to provide nourishment and seed enthusiasm for personal and social change. Slaw me.

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