Today, on the way home from a meeting in Melbourne, I took the opportunity to check out a place I’ve had my eye on for weeks now – a little white and pale-green house tucked on the corner of Malabar Rd. and US1, residential by appearance but with the words, “Green Foods Market” spelled out above the front door.
It looks SO residential that I’ve always been unsure if it’s a real thing… So, about a week ago, I did what we do in this day and age: Facebook stalked them. It looked like a legit little operation with smiling owners and friendly-toned posts.
Today I was in a roving kind of way, so I took the turn.
A smiling young man welcomed me in and began showing me around the beautiful space and the healthy bounty for sale there. It has a home-like feeling, as an old home that’s been repurposed as a store, but is also clean and crisp and painted in a relaxing green and cream hues inside.
“What’s the story here,” I asked. “How long have you been here?”
Nathaniel’s parents – vegetarians before it was “in” – founded and have run this store for 12 years in a different (but nearby) location, selling mostly herbs. He just moved back from NY and is helping them expand it to include healthy groceries and, soon, freshly made food, as well as a greenhouse, garden and outdoor area for music and events, all of which he graciously and excitedly showed me. The energy of construction, vision and possibility was infectious and pretty soon I was just as excited as him!
When we came back in the store, I got to meet Nathaniel’s polite, alert young son Makilah, who had been standing dutifully at the register since I entered and whose impressively firm handshake mirrored his father’s. Young Mikalah showed me how he helps run the business – packaging the bulk foods into smaller packages and arranging things around the store.
Early on in the conversation, Nathaniel had asked me–with genuine curiosity–about what I do and as soon as I said I do community building, he asked, “How do I get involved in that?” It soon became clear that he already is involved in that, as he’s been going out and getting acquainted with who and what is going on in town and how they might collaborate.The Market is going to begin offering classes like soap-making, and he asked if I had anything I can teach. “Sure!” I said.
Our dialogue was woven in with excited talk about community-building, roving, getting connected and connecting others. “Because everybody has gifts to give,” he said as we walked back in to the front door.
“Exactly!” I said, “You nailed it.”
Since I moved back to my hometown, each week has offered a delightful flow of uncovering hidden treasures of local assets–organizations, good work, businesses, neighbors–which I never thought to look for when I was of high school age. I was always a “rover,” but my turf and interests were mostly natural things or places–or, when I was a child and obsessed with collecting business cards (true story), I didn’t have much economic or other power to wield with those rubber-band-bound little “asset inventories” of mine.
These days, each discovery has an added bonus of, “What?! How did I not know this was here!”
I’m so happy to have taken met this great young entrepreneur who’s equally as stoked about rediscovering his hometown as I am — and this valuable local fixture, and to see where our collaboration might lead. (He is already interested in coming with us to the brilliant Funk/R&B jam at local spot Open Mike’s next Monday, and I already have three people in mind who might also teach classes there.)
I also feel heartened to have this local place to spend my money on food so I can “walk my own talk” to keep money in our community for have maximum positive impact.
I am firmly convinced that it is the accumulation of these many small actions, resonant conversations and “persistence in proximity” (a phrase I heard from journalistic pioneer Chuck Peters) that will change our narrative and our world.
It is these moments of decision to dig deeper, take a detour, and ask, “What’s your story?”
Then follow the thread…
For Further Exploration:
Go check out this hidden treasure yourself at
Green Foods Market
2745 Malabar Rd.
For inspiration and resources on finding and using the assets in your community: