Well, well. I picked up Georgia, my long term partner in cheerleading the Green Acres Neighborhood Association, at 9:15 this morning, in plenty of time to set up our stuff for the 10:00-noon annual Blooming Neighborhoods Celebration at the Farmer’s Market. As usual, the two of us had met the day before to see what we needed to bring. Banners? Check. Green Acres Sustainabiity Plan for City? Check? GANG (Green Acres Neighborhood Garden) picture book? Check. GANE (Green Acres Neighborhood Ecovillage) picture book and brochures? Check. And so on. We had it all, including sign-up sheets.
We got there in time to get a table in the shade. There were quite a few more neighborhoods than usual participating in this year’s event (17? 18? wow!) which prompted Vickie (our neighborhood cheerleader who works for the city) to push all the tables way back on the large plaza to make one long semi-circular half-ring at its very edge. That meant there was a large, very large, in fact, it turned out, intimidating space in the center. Here’s a picture with more than the usual number of people in the center.
Most of the time, it turned out, that space was empty, with people crowded both behind us and in the Market area itself. In other words, we did not get nearly as much participation from the community in our Blooming Neighborhood Celebration event as usual. Mostly, we sat there and talked among ourselves.
Here’s Vickie, Georgia and I, early on, before we realized what was happening.
Here’s how the space behind our semi-circularly edged line of tables got crowded soon after.
But, as I said, most of the time, we at our tables sat and talked to the neighborhood representative at the next table. That’s how I met Judy, who moved here from up north only a year ago with her husband. They wanted desperately to come into Green Acres for their retirement years, since she loves our GANG garden and the Ecovillage vision (she had seen an article somewhere singing our praises), and besides, it’s walkable to absolutely everything; but the house they had their sights on got sold out from under them. Too bad, her vision and values are very much aligned with ours! But: I met someone who may become a friend, and her neighborhood is not that far from ours.
At one point I asked Georgia to watch the table while I went to see the sights at the market. Crowded!
Bloomington’s Farmer’s Market is enormous, covering the entire area of what is usually parking at City Hall. Maybe an acre? Two acres? Three? Here’s the sight at one of the edges where vendors sell prepared food.
Here’s one of several musical ensembles that I happened upon, this one drums. Bloomington is well known for its thriving music scene, with all genres represented.
A fiddler . ..
During my walkabout, there was also a ragtime piano with bass, and two cloggers with fiddle, one of whom is a friend of mine, and co-founder of Dandelion, which is another intentional community here — I had no idea Danny clogged!
Wow, check out the young tattooed mom with green hair . . .
I’ve wondered what the tattoo craze is about, and Rebecca tells me that one of the young ones told her that it’s to “let out the pain.” In other words, the act of tattooing is a relief/release of pain. Some of these young ones also cut themselves, with the same intention and effect.
Volumes could be written about what these practices might symbolize in terms of our young people’s collective psyche, what they have to look forward to as the Earth begins to let us know how she’s going to respond to our willful destruction and neglect of her precious, finite resources.
At one point, when I was back at my lonely table, Rebecca stopped by, with two willow plants, which she wants to plant in our emerging orchard area, for weaving, to make baskets. Says it doesn’t spread, will stay in place and grow tall.
As the event (non-event?) drew to a close, I took Vickie aside, and suggested that now that so many neighborhoods want to participate in this annual celebration, how about creating two concentric circles with the tables, rather than one huge semi-circle. This will allow the intimacy that is so much a part of Market culture.
So much of human interaction depends on how we organize space! Christopher Alexander’s classic book “A Pattern Language” is very instructive on this point. Make spaces intimate, crowded, with new vistas around every corner, rather than large, dominating, and impersonal. So much more can happen between and among us when we shape space with this in mind. Think, for example, of the mindless numbing suburb grids with wide roads vs the vibrancy of any hilly city with narrow streets.
She responded, “Okay, let’s have lunch.”
“Yes, come have lunch in the GANG garden.”
Today’s photo of the pond.
Just before we left City Hall, I went to the bathroom, and when I came out, noticed these signs. Wonderful. Only in Bloomington, would we remind ourselves that “trash” actually goes to a landfill, so try to cut down on trash, eh?
Yep, the Pepsi sign is also instructive . . . Is this how city employees spend their “breaks,” mainlining sugar?
During this chaotic End of one Age and Beginning of another, contradictions abound!
Yes, let us learn to expand to embrace it all, to include it all, to love it all, no matter how crazy! Nothing less will do. Remember, each of us, as a soul, chose to be here now.
So dig it, folks. And dig in. This is bound to be a wild ride — and could, if we lead with our hearts, turn into a very good time.