Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Local Mission

June's Local Market is something of a unique creation. It makes money for people who sell their wares there (she charges no commission) -- but that's not the real point of it.
The "real point" is elusive and intangible, something to do with social capital, folks getting together, creating possibility instead of solving problems, and ultimately with us loving each other. It's not charity, but it is mission, because it is the sending action of God (as we understand God, in this context -- she is creative and full of possibility) into the community.

The tangibles, however, are not without notice.
** Self-sufficiency. The underemployed, the stay-at-home-moms, retired folks -- there is a large population of people with time on their hands. What do you do with that time? oh, knit, sew, while away the hours... and now, your "idle" hours can fill up your wallet!
** Education. The younger generation doesn't know how much about how to spin wool, can vegetables, dry fruit, or otherwise process the raw materials they find around them. Showing the profitability of such work increases the chances that it will be passed on. The older folks hate to see unemployed young mothers spending money on clothes for their kids that could be easily made at home for less (if they had the skills!!)
** Resource use. For example: Wool used to be worth something, but these days it's close to worthless. It must be sheared off the sheep, because it grows so fast, but selling it to the "wool pool" (which is currently saturated with wool from New Zealand's subsidized sheep industry) will barely cover the cost of shearing. So raw wool is kept matted up in the corners of barns as insulation. But turn it (with minimal effort) into a felted potholder and it sells like a hotcake! The co-op folks who have sheep are talking about joining efforts to purchase equipment to help them more efficiently clean, card (fluff), and process their wool -- turning it, by the investment of some effort, from a worthless resource into a useful product.
** Local pride! The "Wallowa Brand" is a county stamp that will be applicable to most of what is sold here.

** PLUS I LIKE THESE THINGS: Organic. In Touch with the EARTH (i got my carrots about an hour after they were dug up). Alternative. Creative. I have a bird feeder now, made of native berries and such, on a string, which looks more like decoration than birdseed. And I met musicians, and sang ballads, and ate Valentine cookies and got really inspired on my visit there.

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