It's an odd Catch-22: If we feel the Unspeakable and then try to speak of what we felt, we sound like fools. But if we feel the Unspeakable and don't speak, we feel like ingrates. I'm inclined toward gratitude. So, foolishly, I speak.
~David James Duncan, author of The River Why
And so I speak...My breaking point happened the day I read that methane (34 times stronger a heat-trapping gas than CO2) was escaping from thawing Alaskan tundra permafrost at such a rate that one could hold a match above it and it caught flame. For you see, nearly 14 years ago the Alaskan Tundra was were I took my first born son home to. It is where my husband and I lived over the coarse of a school year. It is where we personally witnessed the first year that Norton Sound failed to freeze over in recorded history, and a village elder drove his snow machine into the sea on one of the Inuit village's yearly hunting trips across the bay. I am grateful for that breaking point. I am grateful for my fear.
This fear pushed me off my island of isolation and made me embrace love. I began reaching out to neighbors and asking if they were interested in more cooperative efforts. I began talking about my concerns and heard them echoed - so affirming and calming. Suddenly I didn't feel crazy, caught in a world that refuses to see that the emperor has no clothes. The conversations evolved from concern to vision to intent. I now define myself by what I do want, not what I don't want. Over the course of nearly five years, I have joined the board of the Alger Community Hall, I've helped establish our Sustainable Samish Garden Tour and the Bow Little Market. I surround myself with people who, for the love, make, grow and do things. I am slowly and methodically localizing my life and setting it in tune with the seasons. I am learning to accept the limits of my space and time. I trade seed, plants, produce, preserves and medicine. I help, I give, I receive. I am fascinated by the power of giving. It is like a piston this machine. I pump love in and out flows abundance.
I am grateful to the people I have encountered along my way for they have restored me. They breath a sense of life, deep culture and hope that simply does not exist in the sterile aisles and crowded lanes of consumer mainstream America. This life I call happy is not easy. It requires a lot of physical work, but what I have in return is a much more peaceful mind.
Can we focus it in an area? Can we amplify it to epic proportion? Can each of our areas ripple out and overlap?...Below I share many thanks to just some of the those that help fuel this love machine.
Thanks to all that contribute time and resource to the all-volunteer cooperative Bow Little Market, the only rural farmers market in Washington State. According to the website independentsector.org, volunteers in Washington State earn the estimated equivalent value of $26.72 per hour. If time is money then this market is truly rich!
All these people help to keep our budget small and heart big. Thanks to our all-volunteer administrative team: Patty Sweaney, Janet McKinney, Kathi Marlowe, Anette Witter, Allen Berry and John Blackmore and our dedicated volunteers: Dan Sweaney, John and Leslie Ann Braun, John and Lindsey Boetcher, Tony and Adrienne Bourque, Michelle VanSlyke, Katy Keener, John Barnard, Frank Smith, Virginia McKinney, Jill Weber, Elaine Blackmore, Keith Witter, Jenny Foertsch, Jenny Aaron, Rachel and Brett Parker, Gina Watkins, Anne Bromwell, Stan Ross, Chuck Nafziger, Chris Soler, Jamie Wisswaesser, Verena Giebels, Kate Bowers, Darla Binder, Peggy Bridgman, Bill and Gilda Gorr, Kathy Brown, Dennis Hall, and Wendy Swanson.
Thanks to the Curry Family of the Belfast Feed Store!
Much appreciation to Kathy, Earl and Cindy Curry for donating their land for our weekly Thursday markets and their barns for our Harvest Market. Because we are a rural market, we do not receive support from an affiliated city government but instead are dependent on donations from local businesses, like Belfast Feed Store.
Thanks to Mary Elmore, owner of Beau Lodge, for her support.
Thank you to Banner Power Solutions of Bow, specialists in solar electric, for their generous $600 sponsorship. Banner was at the Bow Little Market this summer promoting their business, and in turn the company is supporting us. Thank you Banner Power Solutions for your generous sponsorship! Renewable energy, local business, community networks...it's a win, win, win. Above is a photo taken by Jill Weber of Eric and Guy presenting a check this summer to three of the market board members - Janet McKinney, Patty Sweaney and Sarai Stevens.
Amy Berryman is the organizing force behind the Alger Food Bank. She and her committed team of volunteers, Leonna Robinson, Theresa, Bill and Donna, Maria and Fidel, and Anette Witter hand out much needed food the first and third Tuesday of every month. These caring, committed people would certainly welcome more help. If interested contact the email@example.com
Thanks to all who donate twisty ties, clean plastic containers, aluminum cans and garden produce. Keep 'em coming! Special recognition to Barry Christianson for regularly donating apples and other fruits during the harvest season.
Here are pictures of one of the many Community Action Resource Fairs hosted at Skagit food banks over the summer. Here is Bow Little Market Lady, Kathi Marlowe, sharing information about our Double Up Bucks program, free box, kid's activities and entertainment. Other folks were there to share information about senior resources like Meals On Wheels. United General was there with their bike powered blender demoing how to make blueberry and kale smoothies and helping those in need to sign up for food assistance.
Special Thanks to Patty Sweaney!
A heart felt thanks to Patty Sweaney, Bow Little Market vendor and musician coordinator and editor of our weekly market newsletter. Five years ago, Patty visioned a market in our little rural community and because of her dedication and consistent hard work the market is what it is today. In the end of August, Patty suffered a grave health issue which was resolved after many tests and the installment of a pacemaker. Despite her near death experience, Patty was back coordinating our Harvest and Holiday Festival vendors to finish out the season, now that is commitment to vision and community.
It is an excellent movie and critical look at hunger that Community Action of Skagit hosted earlier this month at the Lincoln Theatre. The conclusion from the movie and the guest speakers: the problem is not going to be solved at the federal level, and it us up to us as communities to put in place the local food systems and economies that can help us create food security for all. If you missed it at the Lincoln you can watch it on YouTube. Watch Movie
Led by Community Action of Skagit, Skagit Food For Skagit People is just one of the innovative local strategies being implemented in our county to find local solutions for food insecurity. We will first be hosting six listening sessions to learn what are the major road blocks for our under served community members in accessing healthy, local food. We will then take this information to two different stakeholder meetings in the spring to begin collaboratively looking for innovative solutions and cooperative efforts between community, farmers and existing organizations. If you would like to be involved as a stakeholder in this on going project Skagit Food For Skagit People please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you Laura Matthews!
Here's a picture of Laura Matthews turning tops on opening day of the Bow Little Market. Through out the season, Laura made and sold her tops for a suggested donation of five dollars with all proceeds going to our county wide Double Up Bucks program. This program is a project of the Skagit Valley Farmers Market Coalition, which the Bow Little Market is a part of. It is a fantastic program for both customers and farmers. When EBT card (foodstamp) recipients use their card at one of the four Skagit Farmers Markets we match what the customer spends, up to $10 dollars.
Laura is a shining example of ordinary people working cooperatively towards "community feeding community" in Skagit County. Thank you Laura for your generosity and action!
Thanks to Rita Ordonez of Community Action of Skagit, and Mouse Bird, Keri Knapp, Ginny Good and Jeremy Kindlund of Skagit Valley Farmers Market Coalition and all your work helping to create our county-wide Double Up Bucks EBT (food stamp) incentive program that makes our markets more inclusive and puts more money in the pockets of our farmers and families in need. The Coalition is currently working on additional grant funds, which may increase our match from $10 to $20, as well as increase the longevity of the program.
If interested in donating to the Double Up Bucks program, learn more here.
Thank you John Boetcher!
Thank you to John Boetcher for his support of our market and community. John a vendor, otherwise know as the "Farmer's Friend" at market, brought his printing press to our Harvest Market. Using his beautiful, old printing press, he printed off bumper stickers to be sold for $1 donation to raise funds for the market. John also donated his garden grown pumpkins to give away free to kids.
Earlier in the season John worked with SKAT (Skagit Transit) to get our new bus stop. The special Thursday route had been created last spring, but it took a invested community member to coordinate and make it happen.
John Blackmore is an unsung hero!
For five years, John Blackmore has been helping with all the physical aspects of the market. He helped to paint and retrofit our little storage shed that the Curry family of Belfast Feed Store donated to us. He has painted many signs including the one below for the Holiday Festival. During the season, he and his wife Elaine manage our complimentary coffee table we provide for vendors. Every Thursday he helps set up and break down. He quietly and consistently attends the Bow Little Market meetings and manages to keep us rooted in the practical...most of the time. He, Dan Sweaney and Stan Ross were at the Beau Lodge for several days raking leaves, grass and filling potholes getting ready for the Holiday Festival. Thank you John!
Thanks to the Beautiful People of the 2014 Bow Little Holiday Festival
Thanks to all who volunteered, vended and attended. The 2014 Bow Little Holiday Festival doubled its total vendor take. Much applause and celebration in honor of this real, rural economic revival here in the Samish Watershed. One dollar spent locally is multiplied by 2.5, versus a dollar spent at a big box store, which is only multiplied by 1.4.
Check out the slideshow of the Fifth Annual Bow Little Holiday Festival. What a day! What a wonderful, wonderful day!
Thank you to Sue Mitchell of Friday Creek Habitat Stewards, Kristi Carpenter of the Skagit Conservation District and all those who helped put in the Native Demonstration Garden at the Alger Community Hall!
A special thanks to Sue Mitchell, of Friday Creek Habitat Stewards, for spearheading and earning the grant that funded this project. Thank you to Kristi Carpenter, of Skagit Conservation District, for coordinating the volunteer effort. Thanks to all who showed up in driving rain and pounding heat (we had both) to dig in and plant.
Much gratitude to the Memory Tones, Ted Martinez, Jill, Sylvia and Bud Weber for playing at the Naturescape Garden Opening! One of my favorite moments was listening to Bud sing falsetto - "Daddy sings base...Momma sings tenor!" That's deep culture.
Stay tuned...Because so many local businesses offered their support, there is left over money from the project. Sue Mitchell is planning to help plant a native hedge row along the Alger Community Hall's eastern boundary. Good fences (or hedges!) make good neighbors. Thank you Sue!
Thank you to Darcy and the Diva's!
Once again, Darcy and the Diva's were doing what they love for the community. Here is Darcy Haugian and her band at the 2014 Alger Funraiser. Thank you for the donation of your wonderful talents.
Thanks to all who participated in the Alger Community Fun'raiser. Because of your support we made record amounts of money this year! After the BBQ area is finished we will be replacing our wood shed and adding on a storage room to store the Hall's new cider press.
View slideshow of the Fun'raiser