Business With Pleasure: Storytelling With Purpose

Nola Albert tells her story to Jonathan Kingston, 2009
Nola Albert tells her story to Jonathan Kingston, 2009

So several things are or will soon be taking more of my attention, even while the impulse to share by way of this irrelevant blog keeps begging for some share of my attention and I cannot refuse it.

First, the new notion and intention to tell the personal stories behind the vendors and farmers and volunteers and members of SustainFloyd. This is a developing “working group” in whose future elaboration I am involved, as it has sort of fallen into my lap in a more or less natural way, me being the village idiot with the most words already out there.

Look for more soon on this new twig off the branch of the hopes and mission of SustainFloyd that is also the message of other groups of folks in our community working towards a life in community in balance with the soil and water, field and forest.

Second, I suppose in this story would be the history of how SustainFloyd’s Farm to School program came about concurrently with the local high school’s ag program that was looking for a place to create a “school farm.”

The third leg of the stool would tell (again) about my getting to know two people: Jonathan Kingston and Nola Albert that are pictured here, and how those good memories connect to my day tomorrow at Nola’s.

And this picture-story would come back around to the current day–well, tomorrow actually–when I am obliged to go take stills an videos of three classes from three Floyd County schools who will be going to Nola’s place near Canning Factory Road to dig the potatoes they will have for lunch next week.

I’m sad to say Nola will not get to witness this event out her back door. But those eager young people will benefit from her legacy through the conservation easement she left. Her generosity and foresight has made available that rich bottom land along Howell Creek where student-planted potatoes are now ready and waiting for young hands to grub out of the ground.

My intention of the moment is to tell this tale–here, of course; with pictures, of course. And if I don’t put legs on this narrative in the next week, I’ve at least enjoyed cobbling it together in my mind this morning. Made me smile.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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