Yes, it takes village to raise community-centered bakery
In ancient times not all people had ovens in their homes. Small villages had communal ovens lit on a schedule where everyone brought their bread ready to bake. While the loaves were in the oven folks caught up on news of the day and checked in on one another.
Bakeries, too, have long been a central part of their communities, just as the butcher and the green grocer, an integral part of a healthy lively food source. This is especially important now, with scattered lives, sprawled neighborhoods and busy schedules, a central community meeting space, especially one that revolves around food, is crucial to the health and wellbeing of a community.
I didn’t know any of this 30 years ago when I landed on the Homer Spit in the frigid snows of early May. Nor could I fathom how much this town would mean to me, or, strangely enough, how much I would mean to it. I can tell you that in part it was a slow awakening, in other parts it was not. That the people in this small place embrace so many of the values I admire has certainly helped. Also the fact that even on a nasty day, this place is drop-dead gorgeous, hasn’t hurt either.
In the beginning, I came here to serve, literally, on the recommendation of friends that I could get a server job at Land’s End (and camp down the street right on the beach). So serve I did. (Many of the people we serve coffee to now, were my customers then; now that’s loyalty).
The next year I graduated to day operations manager of the resort and from that position was propelled into the world of local politics and the needs of our local nonprofits. At that time, the resort was run by a larger corporation in Anchorage. Requests for donations from local nonprofits were treated with a very corporate point of view. I had to say no a lot.
As I became more and more involved with the community, I was able to pull strings for some, but I always felt like I couldn’t do enough. It was then that I decided when I opened my own place, it would be so I could say yes a lot more. And I do. It has been rewarding, that. It has been taxing, too, but all in all it has cemented our bakery to the town.
We have a saying we use quite a lot around here. It’s from the old Saturday Night Live shows — Rosanna Rosannadanna squeeking out “It’s Always Something!” It is a simple statement and after 22 years in business I think it is the truest one of all.
Now, that “something” isn’t always bad, sometimes, often really, it is good! Though it is when things get rough that it consoles me most. Working in a busy place where so many people come together in such a meaningful way can be a complicated and emotionally draining thing. Mostly though, it has been very rewarding and uplifting. I think when the bakery began; we were hoping to become a part of something bigger than ourselves.
And we did.
Carri Thurman is co-owner, chef and sometimes hairdresser at Two Sisters Bakery.
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