Wouldn’t you know, I had just put down my glasses somewhere and for the life of me I could not find them. Of course, when I finally discovered them sitting above the brim of my ball cap – on my head – I knew that the great powers of my advancing age and disrepair were upon me, and I must certainly have gained wisdom yet unknown in exchange for my loss of mental acuity.
Having located the errant spectacles, I was ready to resume my search for my misplaced cup of coffee and a good breakfast muffin. Eager to exercise my new-found wisdom, I noted how remarkable it is that my way of looking for things could change in such a short period of time.
Like many others, living in relative isolation has changed my point of view. Two months ago, ideas like author John Katz’ grassroots “army of good” — or our own Emily Swanson’s “locally-inspired, arts-activated community development” — were on my radar, but mostly as noble concepts.
These ideas had now become the driving force behind my search for community flourishing in the rocky soil of this pandemic. Fearing the famine of isolation, I grew hungry to see how our friends and neighbors might rise to put ideas like these into action.
Many folks in the area may be familiar with John and Kim Lind at B&B Market, and the “Food Train” idea they first rolled out on March 24th at the Cloquet store. The Linds have regularly posted photos and videos to the B&B Market page on Facebook highlighting customer donations and Food Train deliveries.
This past Sunday, they posted another video to both the B&B Market and the Cloquet Neighbors pages on Facebook updating the status of this benefit food drive. The video went locally viral in less than a day, quickly getting over 2500 Facebook views.
The Food Train has now put over $83,000 worth of needed groceries into area homes, kitchens, and food pantries from public contributions. Kim Lind told me that the Food Train would reach $100,000 in donations late Tuesday morning, May 19th.
Thank you, John and Kim Lind and the many customers of B&B Market — an army of good — that have given so generously to the Food Train. These are everyday folks working together to overcome hunger and need with a feast for both the body and soul of our community.
Speaking of caring for the body, it would be a really good thing to show our thanks and support to local healthcare workers. These are the folks serving heroically on the front lines of the pandemic in the offices, exam rooms, ERs and ICUs of our own area hospitals.
“How can I ever begin to thank them enough,” you ask?
That thankful beginning could come this weekend in the form of delightful (and free!) livestreamed jazz concerts. Embodying the values of “arts-activated community,” Carlton’s Oldenburg Arts and Cultural Community (OACC) has planned two fabulous and intimate concerts for this Friday and Saturday evenings. The concerts will offer a chance to donate for the benefit of area healthcare workers and we are all invited to a virtual seat in the front row.
While the quartet of Billy and Ricky Peterson, Andrew Walesch and Glenn Swanson features some of the finest musicians you may have yet to hear of, it would be a huge mistake to sell them short. These guys have played or recorded with Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Prince and John Mayer, to name just a few.
To their potent musical brew add livestreaming multi-camera coverage by lighting and video wizard Daniel Joseph Benoit, and a stereo mix from audio engineering legend Scott Lillo. Both Benoit and Lillo are from here in our region, and world-class in their own right.
I plan to take in this feast for the eyes and ears by watching in hi-def, and listening under my best headphones.
Both concerts will be produced under pandemic-mandated social distancing protocols, and for the very best of causes.
With a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council to cover production costs, OACC will distribute 100% of the proceeds from the “Cookin’ at the O Live Stream Benefit” equally to Cloquet Community Memorial Hospital, Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake, St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, and Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin.
Tune in and turn on to this unique online installment of OACC’s “Cookin’ at the O” jazz concert series 7-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 22 & 23 at www.oacc.us.
Food for the folks that need it. A helpful boost for healthcare workers. Free concerts. Great music. Livestreaming from the Oldenburg House (you’ve been wanting to go there anyway, haven’t you?). Feasts for the body and soul. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Take THAT, pandemic.