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©John R. Turner

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Montpelier Market
Every Saturday morning in the summer and early fall Montpelier holds a town market. It used to be called a farmers' market but now people don't always refer to it as that because about half the booths offer arts and crafts. It's located in a dead-end alley off State Street but until recently it was held across the street in the parking lot of city hall. The new site is better. There's no traffic streaming nearby and there's plenty of space between booths so patrons can stroll leisurely and engage in seemingly endless chats.

I'm not as romantic about community events as some people are so I won't argue that our little market is anything stupendous. The fruits and vegetables are fresh and attractive but you can get similar products elsewhere in the area. The crafts are pleasant but I'm not usually tempted wildly by them. Yet every time I walk down to the market I find myself thinking that this is what civilization ought to be in its daily, ordinary guise. Friends are meeting one another by chance. People are talking. Small businesses are selling their wares. Artists are pleased to be able to be able to converse about their work. Nobody is angry. And, best of all, I don't think anybody is trying to cheat anybody else. Nobody is engaging in deceptive claims. Nobody is telling phony stories.

What is it that decrees people can't interact with others in this way all the time? Maybe a super-hardheaded economist would explain to me that engagements of this nature can't support a decent social life. But, lacking that analysis, I can conclude only that the principal barrier is greed.