One of the things I've learned from living in Red Lake is that if you want something here, or miss something that isn't here, or see a need for something here, then all you've got to do is take action. After that vague statement, let me explain.
Last night we went to a beautiful old house and listened to the Winnipeg-based band Sweet Alibi serenade us with incredible vocals and the banjo, bass, guitar, ukulele, harmonica, and drum box. It was an intimate affair, with the band standing in front of bay windows on a persian rug in the home of Deb and Ken. Roughly 50 people plus chairs were packed into the room that was equipped with surround sound and lighting. We sat in the front row, which happened to be about a foot away from the band given the limited spacing.
I've never experienced music that way. The band was on our level, not on a stage. They told stories, spoke candidly. One radio host described Sweet Alibi as the love child of Mumford and Sons and The Supremes, which I thought was pretty accurate. Take a listen to "I'll Wait."
As you might imagine, Red Lake is not exactly a hub for musical talent. Deb and Ken started the Music in the Alcove series years ago because they missed live music. They saw a need, and they took action. The musicians stay at their home, and the entry fee of $20 a person all goes to the band. This isn't a money-making endeavor for the couple; it's a labor of love that many of us benefit from.
The thing that I miss is quality produce and meat. California spoiled me with year-round farmers' markets and grass-fed, free-range meat at all grocery stores. In the spring and summer, farmers make the weekly 5-10 hour drive to Red Lake with organic produce and meat, but once winter rolls around, we're stuck with the sub-par goods at the grocery store.
The upcoming TedXManhattan - Changing the Way We Eat event got me thinking. How realistic is it for me to implement these values in Red Lake, short of shooting a moose and living on root vegetables and canned produce from my own garden all winter? So I called the small, independently-owned grocery store and talked to the owner about carrying these products. His response was that there wasn't a market for it. Well, I aim to prove him wrong.
That day I created an online survey asking questions like "Would you pay more for organic produce and meat?" and "Do you shop out of town to get organic produce and meat?" In just a week I've gotten almost 200 responses from locals, with an overwhelming majority of people saying they would and they do.
After another week I plan to march down to the store to show the owner just what he's missing out on. As a smaller store that gets a fraction of the traffic that the two larger supermarkets get, this could be his niche.
And the cherry on top of all of this? Today I managed to perfectly recreate the turkey and swiss sandwich from my favorite deli. One bite and I was transported back to the Truckee River, sitting on chunks of broken up dam with our Deli Towne subs and Cokes in hand.
Just like the concert, organic food, and turkey sub, things are better when you work for them.