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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Yellow Springs and the Power of the People.

This weekend my wife and I are loading up and going to Street Fair in Yellow Springs, OH. Yellow Springs is a fantastic little town. There is a liberal arts college there which pours a little extra soul into the streets, shops, bookstores. Street Fair is the festival that focuses all of the energy into a point. Admittedly it is a point that is about 4 blocks long and two blocks wide, but, it needs to be that big just to hold the power.

And it is power. It is the power of a lone sax player standing on the corner, right in front of the burger and beer place, just ripping through jazz riffs until the sensual drift of the rhythm pulls you along. It is the magic of the lone musician with a guitar made from a cigar box and amplified through a tiny speaker just plucking a blues melody in front of the Speedway station, because they let him use their electricity. Blues music can really soothe the soul, a simple progression in the hands of a master can move you to a place of such intense feeling. Even when it is played, or maybe especially when it is played, on a small wooden box guitar built by hand. It is magic.

So much magic. It is the magic of the local historical society trying to preserve the beauty of those simple streets, despite government cutbacks and apathy,  by selling homemade cookies, brownies and pies. There is a magic buying street tacos from the elementary school booth, trying to pay for a new swing set, staffed by volunteers flipping carnitas filled with pork, chicken and steak. A special magic when a child's smiling face, missing a tooth in front asks you in all seriousness "do you want it really hot?" "I want it to make me cry." and they laugh and douse it with mild sauce, smiling the whole time. You have to throw a few dollars in the tip jar for that kind of service. Tacos made with love.

You have to love the festivals in small towns, the community, even when you are not part of the
community. There is a flow, even when all movement stalls, and it does, often. The small streets are crowded with booths, back to back down the middle and on both sidewalks, which makes traffic rely on cooperation. Sometimes, though, something calls to you, some bauble, some piece of art, some exquisitely tie dyed shirt, and you have to stop and admire the love and talent that went into it's creation.

And really, that is what it is all about, creation, a community has to be a creation of all the inhabitants. It doesn't matter if it is a small town, a Facebook group, a circle of friends, it needs the life of the members. I have always been kind of an outsider, and at least when I got older I learned to pretend it was my choice. Which makes things like Yellow Springs Street Fair so wonderful me. I can go and be part of a bigger community without ever risking trying to be a part of anything. Or maybe I just like the tacos.