World Famous

Posted: September 7, 2007 in Compassion, Homelessness, Morality

In most of the world’s newspapers yesterday the headlines read that world famous operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti had died. After undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2006 the world renowned singer never toured again. Millions around the world mourned his passing and celebrated his life.

Here in San Luis Obispo, two things happened last night that happen every Thursday night.  

The first event was the Farmers Market.

All of the banners hanging from lamp posts downtown hail it as being world famous, but just how famous an event it actually is I’m not sure.

I’ve sent e-mails to a number of people I know around the state, as well as around the country and none of them have ever heard of the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market. Some of them even asked me what it was. Also, I doubt if there are very many people in other countries who are planning their family vacations around attending the SLO Farmers Market, not to mention I have my doubts as to whether or not it’s making the headlines in any of worlds newspapers. So, the term "world famous" is dubious at best. Of course, the term "farmers market" is also somewhat of a misnomer.

When I hear the phrase "Farmers Market," I automatically envision farmers bringing some of their crops to the town center to sell. And while that does happen at our Farmers Market, there are just as many items available that don’t grow on farms: items like jewelry, perfumes, tee shirts, CDs, and etcetera – so perhaps a better title would be outdoor bazaar. But in any event I’m still unclear just how world famous it is.

One other event occurred last night, but it happened after the Farmers Market was over and done with. It was the recyclers.

These are homeless, who go out searching through the trash left behind by the Farmers Market attendees looking for aluminum cans and plastics bottles to take to the recycling centers. Many of them will "work" the area through until the wee hours of the morning hoping to find enough discarded recyclables to put a few bucks in their pockets. Some of the more fortunate may even find some spare change laying about on the sidewalks and streets.

Although most Americans see the homeless as a nuisance, you have to give those who recycle of panhandle this credit: at least they’re doing something positive, not only on their own behalves, but for the environment as well – plus they’re not out there stealing.

I don’t know how much money is actually made by vendors on Farmers Market night, but I’m sure that it’s enough to warrant the vendors showing up every Thursday.

One thought occurs to me that might help the SLO Farmers Market make the headlines –

What if all of the vendors took a part of the profits they made on Thursday night – just a small amount, let’s say 1% – and put it into a special fund that would help benefit the homeless. The fund would be ongoing and instead of going to the local homeless shelter and day center, it would be used to create and maintain a set of programs that would effectively help the homeless transition back into the community.

Wouldn’t that be noteworthy?

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