Remembering Ellen and Bruce

Remembering Ellen and Bruce

This past summer has been a time of great loss for the Three Rivers community, including World Fare.  Two active local visionaries passed away at relatively young ages, leaving the rest of us behind to continue the good work to which they were so dedicated.

Ellen Thompson served on the World Fare board of directors from 2009-2011, always bringing a sense of quiet hopefulness and wisdom to the board’s stewardship of the store’s mission.  Along with others, she encouraged the board to consider not just what World Fare could offer in partnership with economically disadvantaged communities abroad, but how we could individually and collectively work for justice and reconciliation in our own community.  She expressed her commitment especially through her involvement with ERAC/CE, an organization committed to helping people recognize and eliminate racism in themselves and in their communities.  Ellen could often be spotted around town, even after she became ill, sporting her beautiful, multi-color fair trade sweater from World Fare and a lovely smile.  The wide range of mourners at her memorial service attested to her compassion in the many roles she accepted — as leader, friend, sister, aunt, mentor.  Ellen passed away on June 13, 2013.

Bruce Snook, who served on the World Fare board from 2008-2011, passed away more recently on August 29 after a brief illness.  Going all the way back to 2003, Bruce was one of a handful of local leaders who encouraged the founding of World Fare in downtown Three Rivers.  After he retired from his position as the director of the Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce, Bruce carried his vision for a flourishing community into a new venture, an online publication called River Country Journal.  Influenced by movements that emphasize community strengths as a critical resource for positive change, Bruce was always quick to lift up the efforts of World Fare and other local organizations seeking to enhance life in the Three Rivers area through justice, creativity and compassionate commitment.  Many remember his gentle smile and soothing radio voice, which were just the outward reflections of a truly humble, hopeful, wise spirit.

We will greatly miss Ellen and Bruce as we go forward, knowing that our best tribute to their work will be to continue and grow the community they imagined: one in which all people have a voice and share a sense of purpose and belonging.

Ten Years: A photo and a poem

Ten Years: A photo and a poem

The Fair World
by Elisabeth Wenger

Quintessence of Main Street dust,
summertime is your bike and that one song
that each birdfilled morning you wake to find
going round your head again, a beat you
walk down green familiar streets to, marking time
and territory.

And perhaps you shall mistake this decade door for your own—
it is much the same—and open, step through, blink,
to find yourself in Sri Lanka, the ocean’s tear,
smelling the rich tea-earth stopping your mouth.
You may open a door and find the ribbon-flecked streets
of Kinshasa and Antananarivo, find yourself in Paraguay,

in Ecuador, Eritrea, Micronesia, places
you may never go, but you will know the songs of,
singing along in languages you do not understand
but like the strange taste of in your mouth. Through the door
the fair is bright with jongleur’s lights, and euphonous,
and all the saints whose day it is smile from their plinths,

wrapped in their atlas robes, silk, cotton, and flax.
The booths shine with the distilled work of hands so honored,
caught like lakeside fireflies in a jam jar to light your nights.
The price of honor is honor, and to pay it is weightless
and to be paid is to open your eyes. The fare is free,
fairness is the evenhanded maker of the fair. The door is open.

And at the back, Nepalese newspapers
used for packing pile up, which you cannot read,
but which nonetheless tell of people
who walk down other Main Streets, their feet and speech,
in characters as beautiful as trees. This is all
so different from what you know, and yet the newsprint

feels just the same, rubs off on your thumbs in the same
inky way. Their dust is your dust, and the justice of this
has not been lost, though the idea of it has traveled the world
without you.

World Fare celebrates 10 years of fair trade

In 2003, the Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored a ribbon-cutting at 37 N. Main Street in Three Rivers for a unique new shop, one run by volunteers and featuring goods from economically disadvantaged communities around the world.  Ten years later, World Fare is going strong, connecting local volunteers with global neighbors in mutually beneficial trade relationships.  The public is invited to celebrate ten years of fair trade with World Fare on Sunday, September 1.  The shop will be open noon-8:00 p.m. during the HarmonyFest music festival, with 10% off all purchases all day.  A special “Storm the Store” party will take place from 3:00-3:30 p.m. with a toast, birthday cupcakes, coffee and tea, a special poem reading and a photo of past and present volunteers.

Ten years ago

Our local newspaper, the Three Rivers Commercial-News, has a feature called “Yesterday” that highlights stories from the paper 10, 25 and 50 years ago.  It was exciting to see World Fare in today’s paper!

THREE RIVERS — The Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce held an official ribbon cutting ceremony for the new downtown retail store, World Fare, at 37 N. Main St. The Store will hold its grand opening during HarmonyFest. Those taking part in the ribbon cutting were Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce ambassadors Marcia Saunders, Karen Newhouse, Vic Eichler, L.J. Karuso, Kelly Hostetler, Debbie Hedrington and TRCC general manager Bruce Snook. Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma is World Fare manager and Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma is store manager.