<%@ Language=VBScript %> Keepgoing.org - 1st Anniversary Issue: WORK - Welcome
The fARM


By geary yonker

The Farm Flag

The brother of very close friend of mine passed away recently. Having gone through a similar situation earlier this year, I knew the value of the support of friends during such a trying time. I decided to attend the funeral even though I feared that it would reopen the emotional wounds that had just begun to heal since the death of my mother.

I had never been to the town where my friend grew up. I had heard the stories about his hometown, but like so many stories they don't sink in until you are immersed in them. The town was deep blue collar, quite similar to where I grew up, a place where everyone roots for the underdog. The kind of town where people worked for their family and not themselves, where every bead of sweat fell to benefit future generations. The town grew around a culmination of steel mills, river ports, and railroad tracks. It also grew around the infrastructure that helped my friend's family get through this crisis.

The Mexican Heritage Club was a building more sturdy than beautiful, a stout stack of bricks and glass blocks, but a star none-the-less in its role as meeting place. Carved into the facade of the building was a phrase in Hungarian, probably reading "Hungarian Heritage Club," left over from the earlier tenants of the neighborhood. No doubt they too worked the mills, ports, and rails but in an earlier era. My friend's family were all associated with the Club and grew up in the surrounding neighborhood. Most had since moved away from the area—only the Club and the grandmothers remained.

After the funeral, the Club was the natural place to gather. It was filled with memories, trophies, and buck beers. Many of the faces in the photos that hung on the walls were in attendance. Now those faces were holding grandkids instead of softball trophies. Beers were downed, songs were sung, bets were made, and nicknames flew about. If you listened closely you could hear the full history of the Club in the cacophony of the room. By the end of the night I not only felt like I knew these people but I cared for them. They had made me feel right at home, part of something. My friend's family was going to be alright with these people supporting them. As I looked around the room at the members of the Club, the place shimmered with a sense of togetherness.

I had been having a bad year with my mother's passing in the spring and the stress of my upcoming wedding in the fall. I had been half-heartedly going through life for the past few months. Things that had brought me pleasure and satisfaction in the past seemed empty now, pointless. Then in my search for meaning I found the Mexican Heritage Club. Founded in a physical place, over time its members spread to the wind. Through countless changes and trials the community stayed strong. I then thought about our circle, the fARM. We were spread to the wind, met at a physical place, and then started to work on something together. I saw all of the changes and trials we had gone through in the past year and how we had all been there for each other.

This issue, WORK, marks our one-year anniversary. Our first issue, MANIFESTO, was posted in September 2000. We are the fARM. A loose band of individuals who just sort of found each other over time. A non-physical neighborhood in a world where people don't even know the names of the folks next door. We made our own "us." We are working on the creation of what the Mexican Heritage Club has: a community that stands the test of time. A community that not only celebrates together but supports each other in their times of need. We are a work in progress.

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Copyright©2001 by geary yonker.

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