In 1995, Richard McCarthy who was then the Twomey Center’s Blueprint for Social Justice editor and typesetter for the Twomey Print Shop said he wanted to pursue the idea of creating a farmers market for community gardeners. He had already seen a powerful transformation in his neighborhood when he created a community garden on a vacant lot. It created a new relationship between neighbors, the earth and food. He knew he was on to something.
With his nascent vision of a farmers market, Richard entered into this stream of synchronistic possibility. That idea in its time attracted what it needed to materialize.
When Richard, civic activist Sharon Litwin and downtown resident John Abajian realized they shared a common vision, a partnership was created. Soon the synapses were firing in their creative minds and the vision got grounded in the reality of business plans, marketing strategies, organizing and outreach, leadership development, convincing, coaching, advocating, selling a dream, and overcoming urban/rural prejudices, fears, and stereotypes. It all came together in the hugely successful grand opening of the Crescent City Farmers Market.
They turned “making groceries” from a once a week necessary chore into an economic and social relationship and significant weekly cultural event. Shopping was transformed into a personal relationship between producers and consumers and an almost spiritual connection back to the land and a renewed awareness of meaning in that connection.
Today, marketumbrella.org creates and contributes to a global social motion of change that includes consumer cooperatives, credit unions, community supported agriculture, community land trust, fair trade, green development and technology, and even the developments of local alternative currencies in some communities.
The global corporate ideology of unrestricted market forces and the commodification of everything, including human life itself, is bearing its fruit in the destruction of the environment, abject poverty, human rights abuses, and even a resurgent international slave trade. But the human spirit rebels against injustice and on every continent people are not only dreaming of a better world but are actively organizing to create it. Their isolated impulses of creative economic alternatives are becoming the shared knowledge and practice in a new fabric of relationships for more just and sustainable economic relations. marketumbrella.org is a part of the process.