Miami as Text

Community: Silken Threads of Commonality
by Trish Souliere of NCHC at University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Reflection on the Quai Saint-Antoine market in Lyon.

The sun filters down though lacy layers of leaves to dapple the pavement along the riverside boulevard. It’s not overly warm yet, not in the shade but the gentle breeze is still quite welcome. The vivid reds, greens, blues, and yellows of the plumpest variety of all manner of vegetables and fruits are arrayed on tables, shaded by block after block of plastic awnings.

It’s a quiet affair, either by necessity – the sounds of construction make conversation challenging – or by long standing practice. There are clearly a set of unwritten rules for navigating that these families know effortlessly.

At one table, a woman carefully lays out an exact number of fuzzy peaches on a silver tray, her strong, sun bronzed fingers deft and sure, her face creased in concentration.  She trades one for another, adds one more, cocks her head and moves on to the next tray.  Up the block, a man measures out a bag of nuts with a twist of his wrist, smiles as he chats with his patron, a young woman in a long, flowing skirt and wrap-around shirt, with a large plastic bag looped over one arm.  He accepts her payment, returns her change, and they continue talking for a few more moments.

The scene repeats with haricot verts or aubergines, beautiful framboises and fluffy heads of lettuce.  These complicated steps to an intricate dance form the foundational blocks that create a community of commerce.

We found the thread of community is woven into brilliant patterns throughout all of the places we went today in the manner of a rich silk tapestry. At the top of the hill children played the silly bonding games of children everywhere, running, laughing, shouting. Inside Fourviere, we saw groups of people coming together to engage in the rituals of faith, lighting candles, kneeling, praying, finding the sacred together.  The rituals of community here are as complex as those in the market but here they form a community of faith. The hunt for the elusive traboule created a conspiracy among the visitors to which the locals were only too happy to contribute.