Archive for the ‘fort collins culture’ tag
Making major changes in your own community sounds like a lot of responsibility for one person. There are many volunteers and active community members throughout Fort Collins, however sometimes it feels hard to have a huge impact. We are always so busy, some last second thing always seems to take up our schedules at any given moment, and by the time we get around to making a donation or working a volunteer shift somewhere around town, we cannot help but wonder if we had done enough.
Imagine, though, what would happen if we could gather hundreds, thousands, even millions of people together at once, all making a small contribution. The impact of such a collaboration would be amazing.
A volunteer effort of this size happens every year on national Make A Difference Day. On the fourth Saturday of October for the last eighteen years, people from across the country have organized volunteer efforts in their own towns. Last year, 3 million people registered as volunteers and implemented thousands of community improvement projects. Whether it is something as small as helping out a neighbor, or a nationwide effort that affects several cities at once, all volunteer efforts are celebrated on this day.
Last year, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, a 97-year-old retired teacher named Leola hosted her annual Flea Market. With the help of local volunteers, she gathered clothing, books, appliances, food, bikes, and anything else she can find, and displayed it for her neighbors to shop for in her yard- all for free. “I love Make A Difference Day because I can help so many people in just one day,” Leola says. “I just love seeing them take carloads away.”
Leola was a part of several volunteer organizations that received an honorary award for their contributions. Each year, USA Weekend, which founded Make A Difference Day, gives $10,000 awards to several volunteer organizations.
The United Way of Larimer County is dedicated to making sure that volunteers in our community can reach out and help others. As Leola and millions of other volunteers in the U.S. have shown, even just one small contribution goes a long way in one’s own town. Citizens in Fort Collins and all around Northern Colorado can register to volunteer with the United Way of Larimer Country and get connected to the many different projects going on in their communities. Last year, the United Way organized projects from painting and restoring run down homes to helping families in need care for their yards. The response to Make A Difference Day has been so strong in Larimer county that it has been extended throughout the entire week. This year, from October 19-October 24, you can participate as a volunteer in any way you wish.
There are so many different ways that you can help out this week. You can sign up for any project as an individual, put together a group and volunteer together, or even create your own project. Visit the United Way of Larimer County, and find out how easy it is to be a part of this nationwide volunteer experience.
No matter how you choose to participate, you will be a part of a huge effort to improve communities across America. Because when it comes to helping others, even the smallest thing can produce the biggest results.
Meandering through the farmer’s market on a lazy Saturday morning this past week, I stumbled upon a rare and always exciting find: peaches. Early in the summer they are difficult to find, so by August I had almost forgotten about them. But to see something again that you know is so good-in this case juicy and perfectly ripe peaches- you begin to wonder how you ever lived without it. I bought a ton of them, exclaiming their greatness to everyone around me as I paid, and continued on my way with a delightful snack in hand. As I continued to look around, I noticed many foods that I haven’t seen at the markets lately. The new abundance of squash, beets, and other new produce could only mean one thing- the harvest season has begun.
To many of us, autumn means school or breaking out our winter jackets, but there is a long tradition of harvest all around the world that we might not often think about. For example, in ancient Israel special offerings were made at Temples three times a year: first when seeds were planted, then when farmers reaped the first crops, and finally when the harvest was in full swing. Who knew that holidays such as Passover had some association with the harvest season? And while it seems logical to think of the sun when we think of crops (the sun does help produce grow, after all), long standing Chinese traditions rejoice in the harvest moon instead. Harvest moon celebrations occur in mid-August, when the moon is said to be at its brightest, for it is s symbol of abundance. There are so many different ways to think about the harvest season. How do we celebrate harvest in our own community, here in Fort Collins?
We are certainly fortunate in this city, where fresh produce is farmed nearby and delicious peaches are available as soon as they are picked. But the idea of harvest seems to go way beyond food. A great example of this is a Fort Collins based company called the Northern Colorado Food Incubator. The name suggests something very technical, and also very food-centered. However, browsing their website, I surprised at all the Food Incubator does for our community. They are dedicated to a “Living Economy,” which means that they “support independent community- and land-based businesses and advocate for a whole, resilient community and bio-region.” This mission statement says little about farmers specifically, but rather emphasizes encouraging independent and entrepreneurial local endeavors. I was also excited to see how much of their website was dedicated to local events and community building projects. I found out about that Lyric Cinema Cafe, a local independent movie theatre, is showing a series of films that highlight food and sustainability, and that author and food activist Gary Nabhan will be giving a free lecture at the Lincoln Center next week. In supporting local food-bases businesses, the Northern Colorado Food Incubator helps boost the Fort Collins economy, while at the same time engaging the public in fun and interesting ways. What first appeared to be a food-only business is actually affecting the entire community.
The Northern Colorado Food Incubator shows us what an impact the harvest has on our lives here in Fort Collins. When you think about it, this is true for all cultures as well. The offerings at harvest time, or the celebration of the wondrous moon, are all activities that bring people together.
So as the harvest season comes to our city, think about how our community celebrates and what that celebration really means to you. At Beet Street, we want to help commemorate not just the harvest but its effects on Fort Collins. Beginning September 25th, Beet Street is bringing Homegrown Fort Collins to our community. Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. Beet Street will be featuring events ranging from Downtown Tasting Tours, to VIP chef’s tours of the local farmers’ markets, to cooking competitions and demos (all using local produce). Bringing people together is a cornerstone of the Fort Collins lifestyle. Enjoying good food with friends and family while engaging in the unique elements of our community is one of the things that make living in northern Colorado so special.