Tapping into the Timeless
Places to find common ground
So much of the news these days is about the big problems of the era. Climate change, politics, the pandemic, inflation, you name it. These issues appear so massive and incomprehensible especially in relation to what you or I can do about it as individuals. We are told that ultimately, all solutions are local, and that in order to be resilient we need to create sustainable energy and food systems, water and soil health as well as a host of other things. I can’t help thinking that the foundation of solving these problems lies in creating healthy social systems as well. Provide people opportunities to gather in positive circumstances and they’ll talk to each other and figure out solutions to problems on a local level. We must, because this is where we live.
I went to a show last night. At the Caledonia Grange in East Hardwick, storyteller and musician, Tim Jennings gave his first performance in over three years. Tim specializes in stories that have been orally transmitted (rather than from books or recordings). Tim tells folk and fairy tales and has been much-loved throughout Vermont for decades. Between the stories Tim played his concertina, and accompanied by Franklin Heyburn on fiddle and Ethan Azarian on guitar, he sang a few songs by Charlie Poole and Michael Hurley. The songs, like Tim’s stories, were timeless.
The Grange itself was a character in the performance. Built in 1909, this charming, rustic, community meeting place with one large room upstairs, is imbued with the spirit of all the events that have happened before. Just being there makes one feel part of a continuum. The woodwork and moldings, the faded photographs and paintings on the walls, cookies and sodas offered from a small table by the entrance. The people in attendance as well. One might imagine the same bunch here a hundred years ago, and I would hope, a hundred years from now. Experiencing Tim’s stories, passed down through the centuries - now expertly told within the walls of this Grange hall - I was left with the feeling that everything is going to be alright.
At home, the next town over, Cabot Arts hosted a series of concerts this summer on the village common, the highlight of which was the Cabot Arts and Music Festival. 11 bands, crafts vendors, food trucks, a sculpture exhibit, a mural painting project and nearly 500 people all came together for an outrageously fine day of celebration. It took almost a year to organize, and about 40 staff and volunteers to pull it off, but it was well worth the effort. It was incredibly affirmative to witness so many people coming out to enjoy a day on the common.
Much like the Caledonia Grange, the Cabot village common has seen its share of events and gatherings over the years. Historically it served as common land for farmers to graze thier sheep and cattle. It has evolved into a place for communal activities of all sorts. People of Cabot cherish their acre of open green space in the heart of the village. It’s another timeless place that beckons us to gather and find common ground.
We’ll be hosting the festival again on the weekend of July 29th in 2023. We’d love to see you there. In the meantime, you can keep posted at www.cabotarts.org.
Here’s a one-minute video of the festival. Hope you enjoy!
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