Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Report No. 4

Yesterday I received a thank you note from the head of a group I recently spoke to. It was a lovely note, and I appreciated it, but I was a little startled when she quoted me back to me. "I loved the part where you said, 'I like people in theory, but in reality I find them rather exhausting.'"

Do I really say this sort of stuff out loud? I mean, I think it all the time, sure. But maybe I ought not to say it in public, especially not in front of large groups filled with people who might quote me later.

I was in a large group last night. I went to a community meeting about local food. When I got home, the Man asked me how it went (after I said, "Aren't you going to ask me how it went?"). My reply--but don't quote me--was, "I hate people."

Isn't that sweet? Isn't that oh-so-very Christian?

Actually, when we broke into small discussion groups (I especially hate people who ask other people to break into small discussion groups), I liked my discussion partners very much. In general, I find individual people quite wonderful. But in groups? Applauding and cheering and yelling out "yeah!" when someone says something like, "I don't care what my neighbors think, I'm growing vegetables in my front yard!"?

I'm really not fond of them in that context.

Oh, that's the problem with groups. Someone's always preaching or cheerleading or telling me why eating local means becoming a vegan. And when you start discussing a topic like eating locally and growing your own tomatoes, the levels of self-righteousness and self-congratulatory hoo-hah is out the roof.

So I came home feeling cranky. And feeling the way I always feel when I've had some group time, which is that I don't really fit into groups very well. I never have, but I keep hoping. I do very small groups okay, as long as they're limited to five or six. But beyond that? I get a headache.

I'm jealous of the people at that meeting last night who felt affirmed and confirmed and a part of things. When asked to report our responses to the films we watched ("Nourish" and "Homegrown Revolution," in case you're wondering), people said things like, "I feel really good about the decision I've made to buy as much as I can at the farmer's market!" and "I really want to start a community garden now!"

My response was, "You've just shown us two films made in California showing a lot of young people eating beautiful salads at long tables. Where is the film about people eating parsnips boiled in water with a little salt in the middle of Iowa in January? Why aren't we talking about the fact that you can buy all the produce you want at the local farmer's market, but if you don't know how to cook it or preserve it, you're up a creek without a paddle? Why don't we talk about my sister-in-law Danni, who no matter how much you tell her that it's so, so important to support small farmers, is not going to spend $8 a pound for heirloom tomatoes? You are a tiny, liberal elite minority with absolutely no idea how most people live, and I find you insufferable and possibly insane, even if I too do my best to eat locally and think community gardens are pretty cool."

Okay, I didn't actually say that, but I did look around for people whose expressions suggested they were thinking those very thoughts. Didn't find them. Maybe they'd left already.

So there's one more group I'm not going to be a part of. Maybe I'll be part of your group instead--as long as it's just the two of us.


magsmcc said...

Oh dear goodness, Frances, I love you, I really really really really love you! And even if I didn't love you quite so much I would still be asking you to email me your address so I can post you your apple cosy- ridiculous pink or reasonable apple green? They're as close to mass produced as I can manage and in food miles they are astronomical!!

Gumbo Lily said...

I have potatoes growing in what used to be the front yard flower garden. I'm one of those....but then, I live in nowhere where nobody sees my front yard unless they are family or close friends.

I'm so with you. I love locally grown food, but it HAS to be affordable. My salads from my home garden are "organic" but the ones I buy in the winter from the grocery are not, and I'm grateful to have fresh lettuce that time of year! There are no farmers markets in the north in January. Not many people either.


Left-Handed Housewife said...

Hey, Jody--I'm all for growing vegetables all over the yard. What I'm against is saying, "I don't care what my neighbor thinks." I think reconciliation with one's neighbor is more important than raised vegetable beds in the front yard, and that attitude of "ignore your ignorant neighbors!" just bugged me.

Pom Pom said...

Oh, Frances. You speak the truth. I feel bad (really bad) when I am in groups and I grow all snarky and mean and judgmental. I hate parties but LOVE one-on-one coffee dates. It's okay that some people love crowds and shallow conversations. I never have. Actually, I can be pretty shallow myself. Soon I have to go back to school and sit in big faculty meetings, listening to people say absurd (and WRONG!) things and I shall roll my inner eyes and look around for like minds. I rarely find them. Sigh. Oh, btw, I mailed your book and another funny book today. You should get the package soon.

wayside wanderer said...

Well, I totally get what you are saying. I am not a good group person, either, and when I am part of a group I don't usually fit in. Here is a great (funny) article I read not very long ago. Maybe you can appreciate it? =)

The dB family said...

I totally totally get it!! Can I be in your group :o)?


Tracy said...

When I'm in a big group I tend to gravitate to one or two people. Kinda like having a small group in all that bigness.

When I was doing BSF discussion leading I had to go to the leaders retreat. 700 people of whom I only knew about 16...and could usually only find the ONE I shared a hotel room with. I wanted to go home. All weekend long. And when those 700 people all sang and everyone else thought it was magnificent, I wanted to cry because it was all too overwhelming.

I'm thinking we'd make a good little group together!

Tracy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa E said...

I hate people sometimes too (maybe that is why we get along so well?). I feel the same way about the "local food" movement and would have been rolling my eyes at that meeting. My neighbors don't love our chickens but we check in often and offer many homegrown goods to bribe their approval.

I applaud people's efforts and think its great for people to get involved, even if only for trends sake. I too hate the "mightier than thou" attitude often associated with the local movement.

Trends are not for me, I grow my own food and eat affordable local foods because I feel that one day I want to be in the middle of a large farm where I don't have to talk to or rely on other people and that means being able to provide food for myself and my family.

debbie bailey said...


Angela said...

With you all the way, sister!! Check this out if you have time

I cannot afford to buy from the farmers' markets round here. It is to easy to be self righteous about these things. Trying hard not to judge others [motes and planks in the eyes etc]

My gardening is progressing - anyone out there got a recipe requiring 2 tomatoes, 4 pea pods,a few chives, LOTS of rosemary and very little else?

Julie said...

Maybe we could be in a group together. We wouldn't need to say anything, because it appears that we would have identical thoughts.