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My Turn: Learning to pass the baton

  • McCLINTOCK



Friday, February 02, 2018

I’ve never run a relay race, but I’m learning about passing the baton when it’s time to end my leg of the relay.

It’s a delicate maneuver. The person carrying the baton runs full speed up to the back of someone who’s starting to sprint, with hand outstretched back to the hand reaching forward. The first runner needs to slap the baton into the second runner’s hand, trusting they’ll grab it, and let go in that instant when they feel the baton grasped. The second runner needs to hold tight to the baton and to run with it.

While I’m not lacing on running shoes anytime soon, I’m both running with a baton that was passed to me and reaching forward to pass on a baton to those ready to receive it.

When I started my “Savoring the Seasons” column for The Recorder in 2007, I carried inspiration I received from Juanita Nelson, as we wrote press releases for the first Greenfield Winter Farmers Market. I also gained knowledge from Wilder Brook Farm’s Kate Stevens and John Hoffman, and our local food group.

I took that knowledge and inspiration and ran with it. And, I invited community members to join me, to share local food stories and recipes. Many chimed in, adding their words to my column.

In November, I started a job with Community Action, helping connect social service agencies to enhance their work strengthening our community. I let go of other work, including my food column.

I was thrilled to hear from Wes Blixt about his new column, “Of the Earth,” that continues the work of connecting Recorder readers with local farms, food and each other. Wes is a skillful writer, long-time community member and truly nice guy. I joined Wes at a Greenfield Winter Farmers Market and introduced him to farmer friends. Chatting with Gloria and Ervin Meluleni of Bernardston’s Coyote Hill Farm, I noticed the leeks in their display. I asked Gloria to take a picture of me and Wes.

I picked up a leek and said, “Here you go, Wes, it’s time for me to pass the baton!” He grabbed the other end of the leek and we laughed as Gloria took photos.

Wes is running with it. I delight in opening Wednesday morning’s paper, wondering “What does Wes have for us this week?” I grin reading his stories, and am eager to read the local food stories and recipes you share with him.

In December, Jessica Osit asked me if I was planning a Women’s Rally for the anniversary of the January 2017 rally that brought over 2,500 of us to the Greenfield Common. I told Jessica I couldn’t organize the rally, and hoped she would.

Jessica grabbed that baton and ran with it, pulling in many friends to create a superbly organized opportunity for over 1,000 community members to gather, inspire and be inspired. Penny Ricketts and Joan Featherman spoke at that rally. Penny talked about her decision to run for elected office and encouraged us to create the world we envision by voting and seeking election. Joan told us about how she and other women saw a need, and created NELCWIT and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to address that need. She encouraged us to recognize what our community needs, and to do something to meet that need.

I smiled, looking around at girls and young women listening to Penny, Joan and the other speakers. I saw the eager light in their eyes. I know they’re ready to grab the baton from women who came before them and to run with it — to do their part in this race to a better world for all of us.

Mary McClintock of Conway is a freelance editor and formerly a food columnist for the Greenfield Recorder and is active in many social betterment endeavors in Franklin County.