Photo by Peggy Sturdivant
Mari-Ann Kind Jackson (right) and Mary Ann Namtvedt deal with eager buyers

At Large in Ballard: Grateful Voices

About two weeks after the overall sense of glory and pride in book sales, community connections and sheer attendance at the Ballard Writer’s Collective: The Big Event I finally started to come back into my body. The raffled gift baskets had been delivered and costs reimbursed; the buzz in my head and on the street was abating. When I realized it was mid-December panic set in over what wasn’t accomplished in 2012.

This wasn’t the year I worked on my own book, but it was the year that my husband and I were completely attendant during his mother’s final months, with its low points and its triumphs. It was the year that other Ballard Writers and students did the hard work of turning long-held dreams and hundreds of revisions into published works. It was a year of writing too many endings but holds the promise of a first: being asked to marry two friends.

Sorting all my “to do” lists I found column ideas and quotes on the usual mélange of receipts and re-purposed envelopes; some of them time-sensitive with too few weeks left in 2012 print space. Other notes pertain to accomplishments that are ongoing or will be timeless.

At least every week I hear recipients of Ballard Market’s community spirit sing their praises. Lynnette Johnson of Soulumination told me about how much support they provide, particularly during the annual sale. Later that same week during the garden building by Just Garden at Seattle Housing Authority’s Schwabacher House an organizer raved about how store manager Steve Williams had donated food for their thank you lunch, but not wanted any press about it. She quoted him as saying, “We are just good neighbors helping good neighbors hoping to keep Ballard a great place and neighborhood.” (Sorry Steve, the information was leaked.)

I considered trying to identify and contact all the 501(3c) charitable organizations in Ballard that benefit from the 1% that Ballard Market donates from all collected receipts. Daunting, would humble Town & Country’s Ballard Market share a list or would I have to track down all the causes, from Ballard Historical Society to the Senior Center, from East Ballard Community Association to Sustainable Ballard? Who else is out there? All I can say is NEVER discard a Ballard Market receipt because every single one can help support a community organization.

“The Scandinavian Hour” host Doug Warne won the Seattle Branch of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Award, or Person of the Year. In his award remarks NWACC President Viggo Forde cited Warne’s half decade of hosting the radio show, which itself dates back to the 1920’s. Warne has been President of Norwegian Commercial Club, Leif Erikson Lodge, won the most prestigious teaching awards (Acorn and Christa McAuliffe), has fully endowed full trade scholarships and supported Norwegian exchange programs. He’s also a devoted grandfather, founder of Ballard’s branch of Widows & Widowers Compassionate Support program and a general dynamo. Look out Ballard Rotary.

Then there was a yet another event that celebrated an accomplishment that brings together the devoted (near-obsessive efforts) of volunteers at The Nordic Heritage Museum over the last four years. On December 11th they unveiled (literally) The Voices of Ballard and Beyond. The book is an expansion of the oral history project Voices of Ballard published in 2001.

Pulling off a near miracle in acquiring 50 copies of a 2500 print run from Minneapolis on the very morning of the book launch Gordon Strand and Mari-Ann Kind Jackson stood at either end of a table and lifted the covers. The crowd gathered in the Nordic Heritage Museum auditorium gasped appreciatively, knowing they had managed to weave a thousand volunteer hours and piles of raw narrative material into a table of gold. (The first 50 books were also attacked and carried off like gold).

I could write an entire column about the work that has gone into compiling this book (available at the museum gift shop and Secret Garden Books). But for now I’m going to leave off lamenting all that I cannot accomplish this year versus what they did and end with vicarious pleasure in what a dedicated group has crafted as emblematic of what we all can achieve.

In the words of longtime former Nordic Heritage Museum Director Marianne Forsblad, “Oral histories are very important. They are personal stories that touch your heart, but they are also universal. Thank you for doing this. You have to continue!”

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