The Thanksgiving holiday, the turn in the weather and the final harvest of my vegetable garden remind me of fall in my hometown.

The Thanksgiving holiday, the turn in the weather and the final harvest of my vegetable garden remind me of fall in my hometown.

I was raised in the Michigan farmland where I started picking zucchini around the age of 9. Most of my young life was spent working on farms, picking and packaging all sorts of fruits and vegetables. My community, like so many farm communities around the country, celebrated our harvests with a festival.

These festivals are about much more than just the end of the laborious work of the harvest. The festivals are a celebration of community and a time to tell the tales of the year's work. They are a celebration of the bounty itself and a time to invite other people into our community to share in the fruits of our labors.

Of course in our case this wasn't just a figure of speech. One of our primary crops was peaches, and I clearly remember how delicious they were to eat fresh from the tree.

Upper Arlington was once farmland like my hometown, but is now a suburban community. Instead of farmers we are primarily laborers, office staff, intellectuals and thought leaders. The fruits that we produce today are often related more to creative endeavors, scholarship or financial pursuits rather than foodstuffs.

Whereas harvest festivals are about bringing closure to the season, sharing the fruits of the labor and making space for community togetherness, the festivals we host in Upper Arlington are often singularly about bringing community together. This is because a good idea doesn't require a particular season to blossom so we don't have a way of anchoring our modern day harvest to a particular time on the calendar.

Of course I am in favor of all of this community togetherness. It is a component of what makes UA so wonderful. But I'm wondering if we aren't missing out on an opportunity here. Is there some way to expand our celebration, our own sort of harvest festival?

Imagine if we were to find a way to celebrate a harvest of creativity and ideas. Like the way a farmers' harvest festival is full of baked goods and produce; what if our harvest festival of ideas presented a true sharing of the social knowledge hidden away within our community.

Being Midwesterners, we don't like to make a big deal about our accomplishments. We often fear that by tooting our own horn we'll be playing a very sour note. But in the context of sharing -- of bringing our fruits to the table -- I think we can find both comfort and a great deal of value.

Right now, with economic difficulties facing us all we could use a little added comfort and value.

This thought brings to mind a favorite story of mine about stone soup. There are many versions of this story. Here's mine:

Once upon a time there was a small farming village that had suffered a poor harvest. People were going hungry. Just as things got as bad as they had ever been, an old woman passed through begging for food. She was turned down by everyone -- they all said there was none to share.

Instead of moving on, the old woman asked to borrow a pot of water that she might boil for soup. Needless to say the villagers were curious how she could make soup when she had no food with her.

They watch her closely as she boiled the water and dropped one large stone in. Curious, they asked what she was doing. She explained, "I'm making stone soup. It'll be good enough for me to eat but I wouldn't want to share it with you without some seasoning. Without that you wouldn't like it."

Soon enough one villager offered up a little bit of seasoning -- just out of curiosity, of course. Then another villager offered a couple of carrots and yet another some potatoes. This goes on and on, each villager bringing a small offering.

By the end all of the villagers had eaten, and they celebrated the old woman and her wisdom. The villagers learned that sharing their individual gifts, no matter how small, made it possible to not just feed the wise old woman but also the whole village.

Celebrating and sharing the gifts of a harvest, whether it was an abundant year or not, makes us all that much fuller.

So what gifts have you harvested this year that you could share with the community? If we all share our little bit, even in such a lean time, just imagine how much fuller we could make our lives right here in UA.

Andrew

Miller