We'd like you to know some of the wonderful people just like you who make up our community of friends, bakers, and supporters.
♦ SOME GOOD PRESS ♦
Laughing Bear Bakery is very happy to share links to some print media stories and other broadcast media reports about the Bakery, its mission, its successes, and its community of friends and supporters.
http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/what-s-cooking-hobby-baker-uses-skills-to-create-nonprofit/article_dbc46c66-0055-5e01-897c-a3e8d8877d89.html - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 13, 2016
♦ HOW WE GOT OUR NAME ♦
Everyone always wants to know the story of the name, "Laughing Bear." It is the story of a Native American woman who was guided by the great Bear spirit. Victoria was a good friend to all. She was wise and conveyed a wealth of inner strength and calm confidence that inspired great respect among the people who knew her. Although she was strong, Victoria was reluctant to impose her will over the will of another person. But, if someone asked for her help she gave it freely - although not always in the ways they expected. For, she was a healer of the body - using the natural medicines of her tradition; but also a healer of souls and a mender of broken hearts. Once she discerned the source of pain or doubt or conflict, Victoria went about the work of making that person whole again. Upon the small frame of her strong shoulders often rested the heavy weight of doubt and uncertainty of another person. And, she could carry that weight, for she knew how. Then, she would watch with sparkling eyes and a heart bursting with love, as that one - now freed from the burdens that had held them in chains for so long - took the first easy steps, and danced to a song only they could hear, into a fuller life. Victoria was the champion of oppressed people and she wished only the best for every woman, man, child, and all living beings on the face of the earth. Like many great spiritual masters, her laughter was as contagious as her love. Victoria could see the good in all people and she believed that anyone who seeks a second chance in life should have it. Victoria was a driving force in the beginnings of Laughing Bear Bakery for that very purpose. It is in her memory that the Bakery is named.
♦ OUR FOUNDER ♦
St. Louis native Kalen McAllister is the founder of Laughing Bear Bakery. A woman of great vision and talent, she finds creative ways to put her wide range of knowledge and interests to the service of others. Following her education at St. Louis University and Webster University, she developed and managed the non-profit Carcinogen Information Program as an independent organization, putting together a governing body of well-known researchers in this field, including Linus Pauling.
In 1980 Kalen founded the very popular landscaping company, Plantasia, serving St. Louisans for over 30 years with her imaginative, designer installations of water gardens and stone features such as caves, walkways, and walls.
A long-time practitioner of Zen, Kalen was active in the operation of the Missouri Zen Center for many years. In 2004 she co-founded Inside Dharma, an organization dedicated to assisting prisoners in practical matters, as well as supporting their practice of meditation and Buddhism.
In 2007 Kalen was ordained as a priest by The Rev. Shoken Winecoff at Ryumonji Monastery near Decorah, Iowa. From 2009 to 2015, Kalen divided her time between her duties as the only woman Buddhist priest prison chaplain in the State of Missouri and Shinzo Sangha in University City. The Sangha is Kalen's home base for teaching Buddhism and meditation, as well as organizing a variety of events and ministries for the homeless and prisoners. In 2009 she received an award from the Women’s Buddhist Council in Chicago for her work with prisoners in Missouri. Kalen received dharma transmission in 2012, and was formally recognized as a dharma teacher at ceremonies in Japan.
An avid home-baker, Kalen’s chocolate bourbon pecan pies and other holiday treats developed a loyal following in St. Louis, as Kalen annually offered home-made desserts in the fund-raising events she organized to help support Inside Dharma. Finally, in 2015, Kalen found a way to combine her love of baking with the ever-growing need for reentry help for ex-offenders when they are returned to St. Louis. She organized the volunteer help and funding necessary to open Laughing Bear Bakery, utilizing a commercial kitchen in the Carondelet neighborhood of St. Louis. In 2016, Kalen found The Bakery found a new home in a small business incubator commercial kitchen in mid-town.
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