It was wonderful to see a big turnout for National Night Out in Lilburn, Norcross and Snellville two weeks ago with neighbors gathering together in an old-fashioned real live face-to face heart-to-heart social experience. After all, do we really know who our neighbors are by looking at the pictures they post on Facebook?
I extend kudos to the NNO organizers for bringing their communities together and I hope in 2013 more Gwinnett cities come on board for this national event.
However, no one has to wait until next year for an opportunity to socialize when we have weekly farmers markets happening all over the county. Yes, there are all kinds of fruits and vegetables and homemade goodies for sale, and I strongly encourage folks to support their local businesses, but these gatherings also allow for lots of fun and fellowship that are all free.
Marlene Buchanan, a retired educator, looks forward to her Saturday morning outings at the Snellville Farmers Market.
"My husband, Snell, was born and raised here and he taught here, so he runs into people he knows all the time. The folks who come early are the old Snellvillians. Later in the day you get the younger families with the children," Buchanan said. "We both run into our former students, which is nice, but I feel like I have made some acquaintances that will become new friends in time."
Those include some favorite vendors like Debbie Stubbs of Rick Rack Rosie and Allison Kruskamp of Ally Built Pottery. As a columnist for a website, Buchanan says she picks up lots of story ideas on her Saturday chats, helping her readers get to know their community better. (I can relate to that.)
At the Lilburn Farmers Market, founders Mandy McManus and Andrea Brennan had never been to a farmers market in their lives, but now in their third season, they both see the event as what they call their "Friday family."
"Every week we see people connect and reconnect, sometimes spending 20-30 minutes catching up with each others' lives," McManus said. "Recently one of Andrea's former pre-school students, Kevin Hall, saw her picture on our Facebook page.
"He had just graduated from UGA and he brought his girlfriend to the farmers market to meet her."
How much more fun than just posting a message on her Facebook wall.
Another memorable connection/reconnection story involved Brennan's daughter, Lydia, a student at Georgia Tech.
"She was doing an internship at the Clorox Company in Kennesaw, and bumped into her cubicle-mate at the market. They were amazed to discover they both grew up in Lilburn," McManus said.
Why not stop by your local farmers market? I'll bet anything you find someone or something in your community to connect with.
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.