Monday, August 3, 2009

Commerce At the Farmers' Market

We were at the Kingfield Neighborhood Farmers’ Market. Kingfield happens on Sundays, and its feeling is different than Midtown’s. There are customers who are dressed for church, but there are other differences. Kingfield is a neighborhood with more multi-family housing, and more managerial- and professional-class homeowners. I was startled when a well dressed man paid for his bag of almonds from an unsorted wad of twenties and other bills he carried in his front trouser pocket. There were two hundred dollars knocking around loose in this guy’s pants.

I came back from emptying the trash, and Barbara was talking with a tall and pregnant young woman. She had been one of Sam’s grade school classmates, but I didn’t recognize her. She designs clothing and sells it at farmers’ markets.

When she was a teenager, it looked like S. was destined for a prominent career in classical music. Barbara told me that S. had relayed news of other classmates, speaking proudly and maybe wistfully of their accomplishments. Barbara said she had told S. that what S. is doing stands out as interesting and consequential.

We’re a commercial species, and commerce has gotten out of control so that it exists for its own sake, instead of being the way that we exchange goods and services, develop skills, and learn to work with each other. S. is helping to re-establish commerce on a scale that doesn’t demean the people who operate it.

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