There used to be a tradition at the Orange House - a residence appropriately named for the vibrant shade of its exterior - to leave an additional plate at every Monday night dinner. The small act honoured the extra guest that could show at any point in the weekly celebration. That sort of ethos permeates every part of the West End household. The point of the project, in addition to housing three full-time residents, is to welcome anyone who steps in the door.
“The Monday night dinners are just about building community,” says Quincy Brandt, who’s lived in the house for around three years. “A lot of young people my age - at least, if they’ve left the home of their parents - don’t really have many spaces where you can feel like you’re actually invited and socializing in someone else’s space. I think we’re just trying to be inviting and hospitable. Food is one of the best ways to do that.”
Brandt’s long been involved in uniting local food and people; in addition to completing a degree in international development studies and conflict resolution at the University of Winnipeg, he’s spent the last few years working as a birch sap collector, garden coordinator for Sam’s Place and coordinator of the EcoPIA student group. He spends plenty of time dumpster diving (he gets grocery credit from his roommates for big hauls). To top it all off, he and his roommates make a ton of beer and wine.
“There’s a lot of alcohol fermentation that happens here,” he notes. “I think that if most people came here they’d swear that we’re alcoholics. I guess I can’t technically say that we’re not. It’s not always on our mind, and we don’t always need to have wine. But when guests come over and there’s 10 people it’s pretty common to get out two bottles of wine and that’s enough for the meal. We have a lot of suppers here.”
“They’re just so cute. Sometimes, we use them as donation bins at events, like house shows. One has flour in it right now.”
“Often, this is people’s favourite place in this house, I think largely because of the colours and spice rack. I don’t really know what to say about the spice rack other than it has a lot of spices.”
“Peter was in a pottery class and made a whole bunch of pieces, including this.”
“This is an assembly of Josh and my brewing projects. There is cabernet sauvignon, apple cider - which is from fruit-shared apples that I picked this summer - and an oatmeal stout that is probably mouldy. There’s also sugar water fermenting with Liquor Quik yeast, so it generates 20 per cent alcohol. I was hoping to make really crappy homemade liquors out of it, because I don’t like strong liquors. This is carrot wine, which is the specialty item on here because it required four pounds of carrots to make one gallon. I felt like a giant waster.”
“It’s a gift from a couple from France who recently emigrated to Winnipeg. The man first visited as a couch surfer, staying here. He scouted Winnipeg as a location as a family, and they’ve since moved here. His wife and her friend have a small company making handicrafts, largely out of found materials. I’m not sure where all these parts came from. I think the doll legs were for sure found and ripped off an old doll. His name is Morton.”
Published in Volume 69, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 5, 2014)