By Becky Jane Newbold
A gathering in October in Westpoint found people from across the United States
exploring local economies and issues important to life: faith, people, health and money.
Organized by Catherine Austin Fitts of Solari, Inc. and Franklin Sanders of The Moneychanger, Transformations & Renewals drew “people who are hard working and industrious, people who take time to care for others—their family, their communities, their colleagues,” Fitts explained.
Based on the premise, many people in the world feel as if they are struggling alone, the question was asked. Where are the other responsible, successful people who appreciate how out of balance the world has gotten, choose to understand what is happening and take positive action?
Most of the people attending had not met one another, neither had many of them ever been to Tennessee. Research of the regional economy revealed a wealth of products for attendees, especially food.
“As we organized, we kept asking the question, how can we arrange for this locally? We met vintners, farmers, chefs and potters — all fellow travelers creating new lives and new pathways here in Tennessee,” Fitts said.
As much of the food served as was possible was purchased from local sources. Purchases of meat were made from Top of the World Farm of Westpoint, vegetables from Highland Berries & Produce of Hampshire and Dunkin’s Produce of Hohenwald, eggs from Cudge Hollow Farms and cheese and bread from Yoder’s Market in Summertown with catering by The Emporium Cafe of Hohenwald. Wines from Amber Falls Winery, Chateau Ross Winery, Keg Springs Winery and Natchez Hills Vineyard were served.
Local business owners were invited to dinner on Friday evening where they were introduced and offered the opportunity to speak about their companies and answer questions.
“The people came from such varied backgrounds and worldviews, I was afraid there might be cuttings and shootings,” Sanders said with a chuckle. “I was wrong. It delighted me to see that they set all differences aside and openly and candidly discussed how to help their neighbors prosper.”
Guests found accommodations at the Natchez Trace Wilderness Preserve. As gifts, in addition to brochures featuring local tourist destinations, each attendee was presented a handmade pottery mug created by Woodland Gallery, featured artists at the Strand Art Gallery. Also, “Made in America” flashlights to help better navigate the campground were purchased at Duncan Ace Hardware in Hohenwald. Gatherings took place at Christ Our Hope Reformed Episcopal Church.
Hohenwald is a haven for used “stuff” and has been known as a “Junk Store” destination since the 1970s when entrepreneur J. D. Nichols opened the first “dig” store. Nichols’ idea to purchase used clothes in bundles spawned a flurry of activity as one after another business owners followed suit.
Today, few if any used merchandise outlets offer the sport of digging through piles of clothes seeking a 25 cent designer label garment. Instead, items from estate auctions and auctions of unpaid storage units find their way onto local shelves. Wine glasses used during Transformations & Renewals were purchased from Charlie’s Little Store, Memory Junction Antiques, Mel’s Place and the Ultimate Garage Sale. The highest price paid per glass was $2. The lowest, 50 cents.
Music on Saturday evening was provided by Denise Gartin of Columbia on dulcimer and by violinist Zachary Newbold of Murfreesboro.
Attendees found solace in the community of each other’s company. “The rich benefits of
our coming together will reveal themselves as the months and years pass as I feel certain that many of us will continue to be in touch. I met magnificent people,” Fleurette Sweeney of British Columbia shared.
One attendee, Judith Seime of Texas, noted one of the lessons learned at Transformations & Renewals, “It is important to preserve the ability to love, not just fighting to win.”
“My suspicions were confirmed: America is not going to hell in a handbasket. I suspect there are millions more honest, competent people of integrity ready to build a just and stable economy, guided by their faith in God. That points to a very different economy than one guided by greed alone,” Sanders concluded.