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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Year of Plenty

The Day the New York Times Reporter Came to Millwood


(Photo: Random scene from Millwood in the West Valley of Spokane)

I sat down with a reporter from the New York Times yesterday at the Rocket Bakery in Millwood for a chat. He's exploring the ways that churches are embracing the environmental movement. I think my church's involvement with the Millwood Farmers' Market is probably a key connection point that may have prompted his interest in talking to me.

I feel like the interview went OK and I hope the reporter is able to cobble together something helpful for the article he's working on. We talked for a good while. My comments to the reporter are rolling around in my head today; Did I make sense? Was I articulate? Did I say anything stupid?

One thing I keep coming back to is the question; Was what I had to say really that interesting? Or more to the point, is what we're doing in our community something worthy of mention in the New York Times? The reporter obviously thought it might be. In retrospect I wonder if I maybe tried too hard to make myself sound interesting or profound. (This is always a tension when I stand up and give a sermon as well.)

I'm reminded of Anne Lamott's experience early on in her writing career. She sent her early work off to an important magazine editor and he wrote back with the note: "You have made the mistake of thinking that everything that has happened to you is interesting?" She acknowledges that she was trying a little too hard to make everything sound so interesting. As she matured as a writer she relaxed and learned the rhythm of being attentive to writing about life as it is, as opposed to pumping up all her experiences as if she were scripting out an episode of Days of Our Lives. It turns out that life as it is in all of its ordinary rhythms is actually what is most interesting.

Regardless of what comes of the interview I want to affirm that indeed what's going on in Spokane and Millwood and the West Valley is significant and important and interesting. We don't need a New York Times journalist to tell us that. It's up to those of us who dwell in these places to pay attention and tell the story in all of its ordinary glory. It's a story in which we are all co-creators and co-authors of some hopeful new future that is unfolding in real places among real people.

Here's how one of the storytellers in our midst over at Spovangelist describes this kind of effort:

The Spovangelist attempts to critically reinterpret settled social practice in the greater Spokane area. We demystify buzz words like “community” and “vibrancy” by imagining their real world potential. The Spovangelist strives to provide cutting commentary and sharp observations that challenge your view of what is possible in the Inland Northwest.

How does regional identity get shaped? If Spokane has a self-esteem problem, how do we overcome it? What are the ways we interact with each other, and what does this imply from a Gen X/Y perspective? Are our personal networks sustainable? Does it matter? What could our social infrastructure look like if we built it with more intention?

Spokane has the potential to offer a special quality of life offered no where else on earth. Our story is one of unwavering enthusiasm, and belief in the transformative power of Spokane’s continued redemption and rebirth.

Amen to that. Who are other people in our community paying attention to and telling the story of our community(ies)? How are you paying attention and telling the story?

Random thought: When all those New Yorker's read an article about Spokane they will pronounce it in their minds as "Spo-kayne".

Year of Plenty

The Year of Plenty blog was created by Craig Goodwin in the winter of 2008 to chronicle the experiences of his family as they sought to consume everything local, used, homegrown or homemade. That journey was a wonderful introduction to people and movements in the Spokane area who are seeking the welfare of the community through local foods, farmers markets, community gardens, sustainable transportation, and more fulfilling and just patterns of consumption. In 2009 and beyond the blog will continue to report on these relationships and practices, all through the eyes of a family with young children. Craig manages the Millwood Farmers' Market, is a Master Food Preserver and Pastor at Millwood Presbyterian Church. Craig can be reached at