August 22, 2010 Story Ideas…

Each week I hope to post a short list of ideas for stories which you can develop into something your audience can relate to. Some may be obvious and others may be a stretch. If you have ideas you’d like to contribute, send them over to me at cyndyg@mac.com.

Fresh in the garden - a pumpkin in waiting.
I will admit to frequenting farmers markets in my area. Besides the benefits of exercise (all that walking) and really really fresh veggies – there are some equally interesting folks wandering around. Both in the crowds out front and the folks behind the tables.
One of my special weaknesses is onions. Stockton reds. A large sweet onion..somewhat flat and a rich burgandy color. So last month I saw an especially mouth-watering pile, grabbed a bunch (3 large ones to the bunch) and started talking with the man behind the counter. He is the farmer and took over his dad’s place and is raising the same crops dad did. I asked if his were real “Stockton Reds,” and he replied yes. A resounding yes – he can no longer find the real “Red” seeds, so raises his own crop just for seed each year in addition to the crop he sells at the farmers markets. He says only those he raises from his own seeds have that real taste – and customers can tell the difference.
Story idea: farmers markets are a treasure trove of people who love fresh food, gardening, recipes. Don’t just buy…ask questions. I plan to track my farmer down and see if he’ll allow me to turn up to his farm from time to time over the next year to document his labor of love. Stories such as this one are not quick turnaround stories. Like the plants grown by farmers, they must be given time to grow to fullness.

Times are rough and folks are turning back to Mother Nature…raising their own backyard food, canning, making to. What year is this? Well since my childhood in the 1950s and 60s I’ve been through the 60’s Hippies Back to Earth Movement, the Eighties Back to Earth Movement, and now the 2010 Return to the Roots Back to Earth Movement. Each of these movements is a totally new concept to those who embark on them. Fueled by rejection of mainstream American to financial necessity, they seem to come, take hold, and then fade away.
Story idea: Do some research and find out why folks do this…and does it have a lasting impact on their lives or the community around them? What is the motivation for each movement? Does each movement include moving to the outback and really being a pioneer or just making do with a back yard garden and learning how to sew, buy used, and cut back to cooking real food, not just pre-packaged food.

Every summer has its share of tragedies – drowning is right up at the top. When I was a kid here in California’s Great Valley, swimming was a MANDATORY high school class. There are so many levees and rivers and lakes and resevoirs that waterproofing kids was a great idea. I continued this thought with each of the Green kids, taking them to summer swim lessons until I knew they could float long enough to be pulled out. (They also were forced by evil parents to wear life jackets to all water functions until they were fourteen.)
Story idea: what are the practices in your area? Are swim lessons mandated, left to the parents, or no big deal? What is the death rate by drowning? How many of these deaths were preventable, either by use of life jackets or by knowing how to swim?
Or does your community gasp in horror and allow this bizarre game of removal of genes from the pool to repeat it self annually?

Big Box in the Big City. Big Box Stores. Big Box Schools. Big Box Housing Developments. Big Box Churches. The more the merrier and the better a deal for everyone. Right? Buy in bulk, live in packs, life is cheap and easy.
Only part of this list is true…and even then, there is a downside.

FCC Stockton - Dedication planned for September 26, 2010
Big Box Stores – lots of stuff at reasonable prices. (Though I question how much “stuff” we really need and how much is a good sales job.) Downside: generally it’s what the masses want…and not all brands are represented and choice is somewhat limited.
Big Box Schools. Elementary schools with 500-1,000. High schools with thousands. Big boxes holding hundreds and thousands of young minds, all being taught in lock-step. How many bodies can we cram into a classroom as we downsize staff? How can learning proceed when teachers are crushed by numbers while at the same time being pressed to make sure every student succeeds.
Big Box Development – large housing tracts, each its own community with shopping center and theme. (I swear I will never buy in a development called “Countryside” anything. Give it four or five years and that countryside view has disappeared, crowded out by the next development.
Big Box Churches – the more the merrier. Churches with congregations in the thousands. Overwhelming. Did these churches spontaneously grow or was this a studied plan?
Story idea: is there room in Big Box Development for a community church? Are these developments planning for everything but spiritual needs? I’ve watched my husband’s church struggle for the past seven or eight years, looking for a home. One of the issues they faced was the possibility of becoming a “destination” church – a church so big and with so much to offer that people would come from all over just to take part in it. I won’t say they rejected it – however, the new homesite precludes any major development. They want smart growth, not unbridled growth. Check out your local developments…see if they have in place plans for churches, mosques, synagogues, places for souls to gather and reflect.

Nothing really novel to this first list…just some stuff that’s been bouncing around in my head looking for an audience. Hope at least one takes root in your imagination and grows.

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