Letter: Gift of signs
I am a 10-year resident of western Mass., mainly Greenfield. I have experienced this lovely town from many perspectives: as an overworked family doc with a busy Boston practice, as a visionary and communal living enthusiast, with the Lupinwood project, as a fragile but resilient psychiatric survivor, as a “magic Negro,” as an unemployed person, as a tax resister, as a devotee of Voluntary Simplicity principles, as a clerk in the health and beauty aids section of Green Fields Market, etc.
Let’s not worry too much about those strange terms (like “magic Negro”) but continue with my concerns.
I want to encourage us Greenfield residents to continue to Walk Our Talk on building community and diversity. While it has been staggeringly sad to recognize that the Pioneer Valley takes top billing as THE most segregated place in America, it was not a surprising. That is all the more reason to act from our hearts; in community with one another.
In an environment of increasing concerns about Americans going hungry, I note that Green Fields Market and the farmers market are the two spots downtown where one can use SNAP benefits to obtain healthy food (sorry, but Rite-Aid doesn’t count).
So just after our big beautiful community celebration of a Harvest Supper, I am certain that you members of The Green Fields Market Cooperative will be delighted to accept the gift of THREE SMALL SIGNS to post inside the Co-op:
∎ one in the front window, to welcome customers with SNAP benefits into the store.
∎ a second at the deli counter to assure that SNAP customers know that they CAN purchase food from the deli (but if they ask for the food heated, it is no longer SNAP eligible).
∎ a third in the health food aisle, so SNAP customers know that a blue label means that the item can be purchased with food stamps.
While it makes me sad that I have been asking for such signs for at least three years, I recognize that sometimes things take time in cooperative decision making. Perhaps this letter can catalyze the conversation. And in the meantime, I am hopeful and optimistic that my offer of these signs is taken in the spirit that they are meant; as gifts from a community healer.
OPEYEMI PARHAM, M.D. F.P.