#305 Befriending the dark

Candle in the dark, photo by Andy Hay via Flickr Creative Commons

I am inspired by The Blind Café. It started in Boulder, Colorado. Now the idea has spread to Austin, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco.

At The Blind Café, sighted and blind staff, volunteers, and guests come together “to create something greater than themselves.”

The Boulder Blind Café was inspired by an experience songwriter Rosh (Brian Rocheleau) had in Reykjavik, Iceland. His story is on the Web site (scroll a bit more than halfway down) and in the video below. Rosh was on a house-concert tour in Iceland when he stumbled onto a “blind café”. The experience changed his life, as you can hear in the video.

He brought the idea back to Boulder and eventually found allies to launch The Blind Café. Diners enter a darkened space. Blind servers guide them to tables and serve the food. Musicians play for them. After the meal, a Q&A gives guests a chance to ask questions they might never have dared – or had the opportunity to – ask before.

In the short documentary below, people talk about their experiences. I suspect a lot of people have the same kind of eye opening one of them describes. Talking to strangers he cannot see, Robert James Boswell says, he does not judge them by the way their hair looks or if they are sporting a nose ring.

The idea makes me think of the story about heaven and hell. In hell everyone has forks so long they are unable to feed themselves. In hell, they have the same forks but use them to feed each other.

I never liked that heaven-and-hell story, but The Blind Café makes me see it in a different way.

N.B. Dining in the dark started in Zurich, where the Blind Cow (Blindekuh) serves dinner daily and lunch from Wednesday to Friday. Other restaurants where you can dine in the dark on a regular basis include Opaque , O. Noir, Dans le noir and Nepal’s Dining in the Dark.

Other places opt for occasional events, with awareness and fundraising as motivations, such as the Dining in the Dark experiences at the University of New Brunswick, Baker Street Station (Earth Day 2012 in Guelph, Ontario), and the Pos-Abilities Society (Langley, BC).

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