Sunday, September 11th: As We Remember, Remember That We Are A Community!

Many of us are reflecting on the last 10 years today, and the horror of September 11, 2001. I choose not to dwell on the darker images of that day, or the 10 years of wars and hostility that have followed it, but instead I recall fondly the way our nation, and indeed the entire planet, came together in the days immediately following that terrible day -- came together as one big global community, regardless of who we were, where we were or what we believed. We did so in much the same way we rallied for tsunami relief along the Indian Ocean or in Japan, for tornado relief in Joplin, Missouri or for earthquake relief in Haiti. The difference was that in addition to simply human compassion, we reacted to an act of blind rage and hatred with love and togetherness, and we remembered that true heroes are those who run toward the danger in order to save others, not sports stars, captains of industry, beautiful & famous people or politicians.

And while we have heard countless stories of firefighters and police officers sacrificing their lives to save countless office workers in the World Trade Center towers, one seemingly forgotten story was that there was a farmers market operating at the base of one of the two towers that morning. I recall hearing extraordinary tales of heroic actions by that market's managers as they scrambling to evacuate market vendors as quickly as possible, as debris and burning jet fuel showered down around them. One manager, already burned, reportedly helped hold open doors to one of the towers to help expedite its evacuation. Many vendors at the market that day lost their vehicles and equipment, and suffered injuries. And as a community, farmers markets across the United States, including here in Washington, raised thousands of dollars to send back to New York's Greenmarket system in order to help the affected vendors.

Community. Inclusiveness. Family. Openness. These values are all at the heart of what farmers markets are. I think we, as human beings, can learn a lot from farmers markets. Farmers markets have existed as long as there has been human civilization. They have survived every tyrannical government. They were at the core of the American Revolution. They are bastions of democracy and free enterprise. They welcome the entire community, regardless of race, gender, age, occupation, wealth, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation...

Want to learn about another place? Start with its farmers markets. Every travel show tells you that. And when you see images of markets all over the world, they differ little. Sure, what vendors have on their tables will change with the climate and cultural tastes, but they are all places where people have come, set up their tables, stocked them high with their products, and the surrounding community comes to shop. Indeed, before the advent of the modern grocery store, farmers markets were the grocery store.

You may notice I am dragging out some older photos today. I do so to honor and celebrate the family that we call Ballard Farmers Market -- one of the most special communities to be found anywhere. The vendors, buskers, customers and market staff at your Ballard Farmers Market come from all walks of life. And yet, every Sunday, we come together as one big family. Sure, we have our problem children, and we don't always agree on everything. But ultimately, we have each other's backs. We give a rat's behind about each other. So consider this post as sort of a family album. And let us remember that we are not just a community, we are community. And in so doing, let us remember what community is.

We are old-school hippie farmers, corporados who gave up the rat race to become food artisans or jewelers, artists, community activists, multi-generational orchardists and people who taught themselves how to bake bread. Some of us travel less than a block to get here. Others travel 350 miles. But what you find here is authenticity -- authentic human interaction and commerce. There are no nameless, faceless corporations here. No hidden agendas or exported jobs. No strangers. We are we, and we are right here in front of you, and you come here to mingle with us, support us and be nurtured by us. And isn't that what community is supposed to be?

We don't just nourish your body. We nourish your soul. We are singers and songwriters, poets and performers, human statues and blues-singing shoe shiners. We put a smile on your face, a hop in your step, and we make you feel alive.

As you wander through your Ballard Farmers Market today, perhaps with thoughts of this day 10 years ago, take a moment to think about how far we've come in 10 years. Ballard Farmers Market first moved onto Ballard Avenue in October 2001. While some have been focused on anger, hate and revenge since then, we, as a community, have built this beautiful event, and around it, we have built... yes... a stronger community.

Just look at all of the new businesses that have joined us here on Ballard Avenue over the last 10 years. The strength of our community has made our neighborhood flourish while so many others have struggled. It doesn't just take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to raise, well, a village!

Look, your Ballard Farmers Market isn't cool or trendy. It is home. It is family. It is community. It is a spiritual event in that it has spirit. It connects us to each other, and in so doing, it connects us to ourselves.

A lot of hard work goes into making your Ballard Farmers Market happen every week, but we find ourselves saying out loud on a regular basis that it beats working for a living. We get to call farmers, fishers, ranchers, food artisans, artists, chefs, street performers, and all of you our friends and family. And we get to celebrate our community with you every Sunday. I've equated it with going to church, which often gets me raised eyebrows in response. But hey, we are getting together every Sunday to nourish our bodies and our souls, to gather with family and friends in celebration of community and to promote honest human values. What's that sound like to you?

So as you wait in line to get that perfect head of cauliflower today, or that basket of beautiful plums, be sure to remember to take a moment to appreciate what you are in the midst of -- what you are part of -- because it is very special. Thank the heavens, and thank your farmer. And wish this for every community on earth.

Because despite our differences, we are much more alike than we are different. We are all sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. Let community be our mantra. Eat it up like a ripe Market donut peach. Let it be victorious over the bitterness that is spewed around us. Remember what your Ballard Farmers Market feels like, and try to make that feeling happen all week long.

Look, bad things happened 10 years ago. Terrible things. The question is, how are we going to let it define our future? Me, I kinda like the spirit around here. We are a local farmers market community that is connected both to its surrounding community and to a national and global market community. We care about each other. We always will. Can we take this energy, and the energy of togetherness and compassion we experienced in the days after September 11, 2001, and put it back in charge over the hate, war, greed and bitterness? I certainly hope so.

Hey, there is plenty of local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.