Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Friday, October 13, 2006

Crash and Burn

It seemed like a good idea for so long.
At least it did to me.
We were going to abandon this idea of scattered half-assed markets all around town, and all meet together in the middle - one big market. Everything you ever wanted in one parking lot, with enough space for all vendors and no one turned away. It would have been bigger and better than ever - more fun for all involved and thus creating a new momentum all its own. A momentum that would carry us all forward to a place of more customers and more money. And that even deserves an explanation point: !
There was a flurry of excitement when it all started. Meetings, committees, plans. people made phone calls and sent emails and let their imaginations spin out with all the possibilities. We finally got some concrete plans together: a site, a starting date, even a name and a logo. And slowly folks dropped out. Slowly, like at first they seemed less enthusiastic, and then they suggested they might not want to drop their existing market, and then they said they wouldn't be at the new market ....Some folks responded with outright hostility, grasping at every reason they could think of for why this market was a lousy idea. Others just said nothing and hoped the whole idea would go away.
Some responded to these objections by redoubling their commitment to the new market, and proclaimed they would be there no matter what others felt about it. This response pissed some off even more, and they redoubled their objections to the market. A casual observer could be forgiven if his or her impression was that this would either be the greatest thing ever or the end of sustainable agriculture as we know it.
I'm struck by the tremendous weight an idea gains when it shifts, as Eliot put it, from the shadow to the reality. The turning point in attitudes, it seems to me, came when this thing became no longer an idea somewhere off in that distant future, but a tangible object existing just before us. Changes would be called for - soon! Off the snug little security of known routines and off a little bit into the - unknown. And many retreated back.
What's curious to me is that many vendors at many existing markets speak of what they want their markets to become by describing most of the attributes of the big market, but are still unwilling to make the shift.
The things not dead yet, but that may not be good news. Those determined to forge ahead may end up with just another small-sized market, struggling for existance year after year with a marginal customer base. The market may be delayed a year, giving all those with cooling feelings about the market the chance to be with the idea for a while, maybe rekindling their excitement. Or maybe the whole thing is in a tailspin, just a hundred feet or so from a fiery crash with a hillside.
It's been an entertaining process, at any rate. Far more indicative of some basic human responses than of agriculture in general, but then, maybe those are one and the same, anyway.


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