Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What is a Community?

Having recently returned from a year away, I have been thinking a great deal about what I have returned to. My friends in other places, who have not yet been up to visit me, probably imagine that I have given up a lot to move to a "city" of 5,800 people that is Gardiner, Maine. But in reality I have given up little and have gained so much. And what I have gained is a community. Having lived in a large city (actually many of them) I have had some sense of community but in a smaller city or town even the word community is different to me. Here I have many communities- the community of artists, the business community, the community of dog lovers, friends, etc... And here being an active part of the community means you can really make a difference. I am proud to volunteer as a Board Member for Gardiner Main Street.

But as a small community, we feel the loss of a business more acutely. When we lose Sweet Love, Mad Dog, Blue Sky, we feel it deeply. Each of those businesses contributed to our community, volunteered in our community. Of course there will be new businesses to take their places and hopefully win our hearts. And of course we have plenty of businesses making us great food, providing us entertainment, offering great gifts, providing excellent service. I value all that this community has to offer. Of course we don't have endless amounts of money to spend but when we spend it we should spend it locally. I challenge you all to try to shop local whenever possible. And it may be time to explore what is possible. If you haven't walked into every store downtown it may be time to do so. I have a few I haven't visited since I have been back and I intend to get in to visit soon.

In the past few weeks or so I have:
  • Had a tasty meatball calzone with minced garlic and oregano from Gerard's
  • Got another 4 pack of Innis and Gunn rum cask beer from Water Street Cafe. Had an awesome ham,egg and cheese on a bagel, picked up wine for an opening, etc...
  • Replaced and ironing board cover and got a Charleston Chew at Reny's
  • Grabbed some coffee to keep me going and hot chocolate to keep me warm at Sweet Love
  • Had my favorite Greek Calamari Salad at A1 Diner (among other meals)...and I am very tempted by the whoopie pies!
  • Went out to dinner with a friend to Pasta'z. Always delicious and the service is always fantastic.
  • Ordered a burrito from Lisa's Legit Burrito's and then got busy. They put it in the warmer and when I finally picked it up an hour later it was still delicious!
  • Picked up fantastic local foods at the Kennebec Local Food new love!
  • Yummy lobster roll and beer at The Depot.
  • Been sitting in my gallery/shop Monkitree. Helping customers pick out gifts, watching them enjoy art and of course I have been telling everyone about how wonderful Gardiner is!
(I'm sure there are more. OK so upon returning I ate out more than normal)  

Great things will continue to happen in Gardiner. This years River Festival (June20-23) is going to be bigger and better than ever. Two nights of fireworks, a carnival, a craft fair and live music! All made possible by local business sponsors and loads of volunteers. So come and enjoy Gardiner and remember to visit our local businesses. We would love to see you!

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