Brian Rocheleau -- aka Rosh -- was touring through Reyjkavik, Iceland, when he stumbled across a blind cafe, the first he'd ever seen. "I'd been contacting people all across Europe, where I'd travel to people's homes and stay with them and do concerts in their living rooms," he says. "It happened to be disabilities awareness week in Reyjkavik, and I thought it was a really amazing way to bring awareness to the community there. And I also got to connect with all these different senses that I don't normally connect with."
For a couple of years, Rosh would share his story on stage between songs. When he made it back to Boulder, he took a diversity class at Naropa and met a woman named Ruth Harrington, who happens to be blind. "She was in the class, we became friends, and I started sharing this story, and I thought it would be a really amazing thing to do in Boulder," Rosh remembers. "One of the things I've been doing with my music is using it to build community -- much like food, it brings people together. So I've done several fundraiser concerts for local organizations, and thought, 'Why not connect the bridges between the sighted people and visually impaired?'"
"Ruth encouraged me to do it," Rosh adds. "I had a lot of fears of offending people in the community. I didn't want to be intrusive, like a musician saying, 'Come be my blind waiters and promote me.' I shared that fear with her, and she felt my genuinity and she said, 'Let's do it.' And I said, 'All right, let's bring it to the community, use it as a way not only to bring awareness to the community and raise money for a cool cause, but more than that is the relationships in the community that are built by everyone to put something together. Everyone gets to come in and give their different gifts. And a fulfilling life comes from being able to give and receive those parts of ourselves that we bring to the table. So through my projects I've been able to do that; this is taking it to the next level."
That's how this weekend's Boulder Blind Cafe got its start. And while this particular dinner is sold out, Rosh plans to put together more in the future. "We decided to do a vegetarian dinner because this is Boulder, and my girlfriend's a vegetarian," Rosh reveals. "We thought, let's try to make it open to as many people as possible. Some people may prefer to not come, but people are coming not just for the food, but because they want to come and explore.
"The basic thing that we're doing is entertain and educate. You entertain people, get them to laugh and cry, and their hearts open. And there's a window to really share personal experience. One of our blind waiters will share a personal story, an opportunity for people to learn, be educated and find out more about their own community, the parts that they're actually separated from.
"I didn't know anybody who was blind, but now I'm developing relationships with people who are visually impaired, and I am learning so much about being more careful and aware of my own senses and how I relate to my reality, and I hope that gets passed on. It's a good challenge. We'll also have a spoken-word artist doing poetry, Rick Hammond; he's a blind waiter, and he'll be doing his spoken-word."
So what else are you missing out on this weekend? "We're going to have around three dishes," Rosh says. "There was talk of risotto, there was talk of some green beans all doctored up and tasty, there was talk of persimmon pudding, maybe, or poached pears with Italian cheese and dark chocolate. I think everybody's going to be sharing the same meal, everybody has to serve themselves and help each other serve."
During the dinner, Rosh will be performing with his band, One Eye Glass Broken, and the proceeds will benefit Boulder Guide Dog Puppy Raisers. Keep an eye on Rosh and any upcoming Boulder Blind Cafe events at http://boulderblindcafe.com/Home.html.
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