I am writing on the train, or on the “T” as we like to call it here in Boston, rushing off to work (I am a hostess at an Italian restaurant in Cambridge) after a wonderful morning at the Hingham Farmer’s market on behalf of GCY. The Farmer’s Market, set up in a parking lot along the beach in the Hingham harbor is a humble and yet for me, inspiring place to be as it is full of lots of good people doing good things for each other (and whole universe of others) by buying good food – or “good, clean, fair food” as the Slow Food mantra goes. I was very excited to start to spread the seeds of Global Citizen Year at the local level, and of all places to start, I felt this was it.
After staying up late last night filling in bubble letters on a poster of the GCY logo (now thats what I call love) I was up early this morning loading the car, and was one the first to arrive at the market. Greeted as “the girl who nearly crashed their computer” with my lengthy vendor application, I was given a spot in between the oatmeal and face-painting. My mother and I devised various ways to display an array of my past artwork under the canopy of our tent and I wrote in colorful, large letters on poster board: “Commission a Portrait to support the gap year movement” and “I am going to Senegal for seven months to learn about the developing world, please support me!” I felt tempted to write a whole paragraph on one of the poster boards (there was just so much I wanted to say) but my parents advised me against it; and painfully simplistic though the signs were, they certainly attracted questions, which is what I wanted.
What is a gap year? for example. Good Question! I’d love to tell you. Its a year which students my age take in between high school and college to travel, experience the real world and gain a perspective on their own lives that may influence their studies in college and their life beyond. And I hope that by showing how much I believe in it, you will believe in it too. I didn’t quite say that, but that’s basically the underlying intent of most of what I did say. Because, as I came to realize today, thats how it works, and this is how it is going to work for us founding fellows if we indeed want to build our movement: we have to talk. Beliefs only become powerful when they are shared, and the best way to share them is person to person. I’m on one side of this table, and you’re on the other; we’re both enjoying the beautiful sunshine and I’ll tell you a little bit about myself before you continue your morning shopping. Simple as that. Simple, and small, but wonderful. Like a small, sandy, just-picked cherry tomato.
Regardless of the fact that the actual sum of donations I received was greater than expected, I was most encouraged by the number of people who were willing to just drop a few dollars in my basket, whether they liked what I was saying, my artwork, the smile on my face, the beautiful bubble letters on that poster. I even received a donation of “mac daddy granola” and a bar of soap. On a more practical note, I did receive one official commission for a portrait, was able to hand out many info sheets about my project and GCY, and collected a email list of people who might be interested in learning more. I was also told that I am welcome to come back to the market next week, and last but not least, I was offered a space in the Hingham Journal to write a small section about my portraits and my fundraising!
All in all, it was a very pleasant, exciting morning: a little giddying to be surrounded by all of the things I am most proud of, and then to be able to share them and see the appreciation of strangers. I am eager for next week and already thinking of ways to make my booth new and different. Maybe something involving peanuts….