The Secret Sauce
“Fairfield is a community of people who share a deep sense of pride in our past, the traditions that sustain us, and the activities that create our future. We are in many ways an over achieving bunch, who consider ourselves fortunate to have such a rich community to build upon…We value good government, good schools and educational opportunities, healthy living, recreation, arts and culture.” –Mayor Ed Malloy of Fairfield, IA
There has never been a better time to focus on rural America. Now more than ever, we need to shine a light on the innovators, the artists, the makers, and the bridge-builders who are helping to build more socially and economically resilient futures —especially in the rural communities that feel so overlooked. I cannot think of a better way to be spending my time, and I hope you will join me here.
To farm is to teach myself to notice. To carefully observe the weather. To see the unique curvature of each pepper or squash. To watch raspberries get plump after it rains. To see a yellow and black orca spider for the first time as I cleared a lettuce bed at Green Earth Gardens in Unity Maine.
Success is falling to sleep every night in complete physical and psychic exhaustion from serving someone or something that you love and then having the privilege of getting up in the morning and doing it all over again. That is my hope for you, that is my appeal to you now. If you are going to let something go, let go of yourselves.
“Bookstores have always been the most comfortable sort of commercial place. I have a hard time with WalMarts and malls and hyper capitalism and consumerism, so bookstores are kind of an antidote to hyper consumerism where you can be a little relaxed and slow and take your time.”
I had failed. And as soon as I had accepted this fact, I let go of feeling awful about it. I knew that it was more important for me, in that moment, to learn from this and move forward — to understand what had led me to choose failure and grow from it.
Saying “no” in a small town is an act of humanity, with all the reward and responsibility that being human entails.
And so, as our son moves through his final weeks at this lovely, oddball school and our family weathers yet another transition, I feel compelled to pay homage to the place where he, and we as a family, have learned so many valuable lessons —a place that has given us the opportunity to share meaningful work, humble work, love-filled work, with such an incredible community of people —those who have come before us as well as those who will follow.
“A nation is not judged by how well the strongest in its midst can do but by how well it cares for the weakest and most vulnerable in its midst.”
How do you think we can help strengthen the safety net in our communities to further support our most vulnerable members?
In a time when everyone is plugged into a device, both at home and in public, it is extremely refreshing to sit in a room captivated by a single person telling a true story from their own life. The sense at the end of the night is that we are a closer community, having shared an intimate moment typically reserved for the best of friends.
In a small town, stripped of distractions, we face ourselves in the mirror of those who know us all too well.
“God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.” —Hazrat Inayat Khan
Living with small town gossip is like sleeping under a heavy duvet, occasionally it gets a little too hot but when you’re naked and alone on a cold winter’s night it’s the only thing between you and the soul-death of solitude.
What would happen if a whole family, community, or bioregion of people were connected by dozens or even hundreds of the same song patterns? And what if they were shared in daily life as part of the delicious food necessary for growing resilient community?
We celebrate and give thanks for the bounty of the land and the harvest that will carry us through the frozen tundra of long Midwestern winters.
How does a musically-gifted, racially-mixed family from Chicago make it in a rural Wisconsin town settled by Germans and Norwegians? Ted and Catherine Parrish, along with their two African-American children, weren’t sure it could be done. But they wanted to try.
It is hard to deny that [Reinette] cares deeply about her community and the people in it; that every action she takes is an effort to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves —the disenfranchised, the under-served, the animals, the earth.
At the end of the day, I believe that investments in community are necessary for healing what ails us. The communities that Ms. Roggio applauds are thriving because people have committed to them…They have shown a willingness to stay through challenge and hardship in order to build something a little more lovely —even when it is a painstakingly slow process.
“Choice-making beings of many possibilities, we humans live by shared cultural stories. They are the lens through which we view reality. They shape what we most value as a society and the institutions by which we structure power.”
When you start building things for our youth, you bring everyone on board —parents get involved, schools get involved, and kids find meaning. THAT is what community looks like. When we step outside of our own little tribes and comfort zones to something that is a little bit bigger, when we layer our networks beyond the nucleus— that is where we find the true power of community.