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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Village Hearts

The photo above was taken in early morning in early June, which explains all the empty parking spaces. We’re much busier now. In fact, mid-June felt like July in a business sense, I'm happy to say (and I'm also happy that the weather was not yet midsummer broiling), but I decided to open today’s post with this photo because I like the light coming over Grand Traverse Bay and always enjoy the view from the top of Nagonaba Street. If you came into town this way, you’d be coming by the back streets, and down at the corner by the Filling Station you’d turn right to reach Dog Ears Books.

“This is the beating heart of Northport!” one of my fans exclaimed the other day as he walked in the door with a big, gusty, satisfied sigh, happy to be here. Welcome as the compliment was, I couldn’t help thinking I knew better, and I sighed, too, but with less satisfaction. My sigh was, in fact, a bit wistful. There are some people—many of them summer visitors--for whom my bookstore is important, but it’s hardly the community hub, as the long "off-season" makes painfully clear.

Then I got to thinking further about about the question. What would you say is the “heart” of our community or yours or of any other? In Northport, some people identify Barb’s Bakery, their daily social contact place, as the community heart or hub, and for some it is. Yet there are other locals who never sit down to gossip at the coffee table at Barb’s.

Our small but beautiful township library, where Deb Stannard, the librarian, has a gift for making everyone feel welcome, must be the heart of Northport for many, while for others the school or one of our five churches would be the most important place, the center of social and/or spiritual and/or intellectual life.

I posed the question of Northport’s heart to a former NPS teacher, someone whose family has been in the area for a long, long time, confiding in her that at times I feel like a real part of the community, and other times not at all. She shook her head and gave this answer:

“The heart of the community is the lives you touch,” she said, “and you touch people’s lives!”

Her words touched me. I was grateful to her for saying that. As an individual in business in a small village, it was good to hear, but her formulation is good, I realized later, in a more general way, too, because it means that any community will have many hearts. What would it mean, after all, for our town or any other if there were only one beating heart and that heart stopped? No one is indispensable, but we can all be important to others by giving of ourselves.

Community reminder: June is the third month of the second quarter of the year, so Tom’s receipts for the Northport Promise scholarship program need to get into Promise boxes by the end of the month.


Kathy said...

This is a most beautiful and thoughtful post, Pamela. Pondering the heart of a village or small community. I am intrigued by this. Today we attended a fishing derby over in Baraga where probably 300-500 children attended. The heart of our community was visible everywhere, pulsing, sharing, giving. I don't think it's in a single place. I think it grows more visible when people give of themselves for the larger community. Will ponder this some more. Thank you!

P. J. Grath said...

Kathy, I’m sure this has happened to you: You start writing a blog post, something you’ve been mulling over for a while, and as you write, whether with pen and paper or with keyboard, more thoughts come, and you end up in a surprising new place. That’s what happened to me with this one. Happily!

Kathy said...

Indeed, it's happened many times! Again, it is a wonderful blog. Thank you.

Karen Casebeer said...

Hi Pamela...Great post! I'm confused, however, about your final comment regarding Tom's receipts and the Northport Promise. Can you explain that? Karen

P. J. Grath said...

Thanks, Karen, and of course I’ll explain. Glad you asked. When you buy groceries at Tom’s Market in Northport and are asked if you want your receipt, always answer “Yes, please.” Then deposit those receipts in any of the heart-shaped boxes around town—at Dog Ears Books or Dolls and More or Huntington Bank, etc. These get collected at the end of every quarter (Jan.-Feb.-Mar., Apr.-May-June, July-Aug.-Sept., Oct.-Nov.-Dec.) and returned to Tom’s, and one percent of the total sales goes to the Northport Promise, a college scholarship fund for graduating seniors. It’s a great cause, and all you have to do is remember to ask for your receipts and then stuff them in one of the heart boxes.

Dawn Parker said...

Tom's receipts also support the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, which needs the help as well.

P. J. Grath said...

Good point, Dawn. Thanks. Are there any other causes to which the receipts can be donated? I know that Tom's has a donation site for the Leelanau Food Pantry but don't know if receipts can go toward that cause.