There are many things I love about the local movement, and one is the spirit of goodwill that tends to show up with it.The word  community” begins to creep in to “commerce.” This particularly happens when people start getting to know each other over time — being regulars at farmers markets, co-ops, and cafes — but I am always touched and impressed when the exchange is between a vendor and a touring visitor, and there is no agenda beneath the act of kindness. I’ve been a visitor at many markets in other towns, and still treated in a way that makes me feel I am a community member of the human race. Of course it helps when that feeling goes both ways.

This last week, without asking, I walked away from our Sedona farmers market having been gifted steaks, a pint of strawberries, and a tamale. I have received eggs, pecans, fish, and plenty of fruits and vegetables over these last 2 years attending the market, always without asking, and I usually have offered and been denied the opportunity to pay. And I am not afraid to pay. I rather passionately believe in a world of supporting small farmers and artisans, and like to vote with my dollar, even my last dollar.

And yet, people like to give. It’s natural and it makes sense. If you love your garden, and love your neighbor, feeding your neighbor what has come out of your garden feels natural and good. And your world expands. You create your family.

I remember one week, when I lived in Kauai, that I only had $5 to spend, and came home from the market with a counter full of gifted overgrown papayas, avocados, citrus, and vegetables. It felt like, particularly living on an expensive island, that the people living there communicated, “we’re in this together.” I find that same feeling in other places though. I feel it every time I receive thoughtfulness or a gift, and I feel it every time I’m able to say, “keep the change.” We’re in this together — supporting each other through the challenges of the world, and enjoying each other through the wonders of the world.

In the store, we get to see goodwill all the time. A customer leaves apricots from their tree for the staff. A grower gifts me her first delivery as a thank you. A friend gives me $100 and tells me to gift the first 10 customers that day $10 each, — this of course touches people and inspires a pay-it-forward phenomenon. The employees have even gotten to the point of competitive goodwill — yes. “They bought so-n-so’s milk? I’ve got to up my game!” they smile and say. Doing what they do, they feel that they are creating community, and that what they offer enriches their own lives.

Our lives expand when we’re good to each other. Keep it up, Sedona, and really — Keep it up, World. I have no doubt that the spirit of goodwill will carry on through the existence of this human race — let’s just keep it strong and let it grow.