From the opening pages of Robert Theobald’s book Reworking Success: New Communities at the Millenium.
A stranger comes to a starving town,
Promising to make stone soup.
He finds some firewood,
Uses his own pot,
Puts water on to boil.
As the water heats.
He wanders around,
He adds them to the pot,
With strange muttered recipes.
The villagers gather round.
This is the best entertainment
Their village has had since the famine began.
As they listen,
They hear the stranger admit
That while stone soup is good,
It does taste better with a pinch of salt.
One of the crazier people,
(Or is she actually more caring?)
Brings out some salt she has hoarded.
And dried tomatoes
As each one is added,
Others remember their own stores
And bring them to the common stew.
We have all made something out of nothing,
By remembering the old, old lesson,
That together we can create opportunities
Which escape us when we hide
Our resources and skills from others.
It is time to build community again,
To share what we have,
And to experience miracles.
It is time to live,
And finding it,
In the midst
Of our harried lives.
This is what CRADLE is all about. Individually, nobody had food that would feed them, but together they created a rich and nourishing soup that everyone could share. I suppose I am the stranger in the story, although Bakersville and Mitchell County are hardly the starving town — each already has many riches. But my task is to encourage people to put their thoughts, their songs, their stories, their knowledge, their traditions into the pot so that everyone can thrive. As Theobald says, “together we can create opportunities / Which escape us when we hide / Our resources and skills from others.”
It has now been four months since that March evening when the music of Buncombe Turnpike “kicked off” the Bringing the Arts Back Home project in Bakersville. My assistant, Kirby Gibson, and I are putting together several different events to get things rolling. We’re starting to make stone soup, but to make it palatable we will need to hear from the people of Bakersville, Ledger, Red Hill, Loafer’s Glory, Tipton Hill, Buladean, Spruce Pine and many, many other places in Mitchell County that I have only begun to learn about. We’ll need you to share what talents and knowledge you have to share, and on the other hand, what talents and knowledge you’d like to experience or learn about. And we’ll try to get them added to the soup.
Let’s set the water warming!