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What’s it take to make a Village?

By Staff | May 24, 2012

Several years ago, Hilary Clinton wrote “It takes a Village,” a much acclaimed children’s book. It you are at all observant this coming weekend, you will see what it takes to actually create that warm cozy feeling that the term “village” connotes. Of course I am talking about the Shepherdstown Back Alley Tour and Tea (BATT) the 14th time that we have held this special event in recent years. It really brings out the unique character of our town.

The BATT is important because it highlights for a couple pleasant days an aspect of our life-style that is rapidly being lost pushed aside by the boisterous, compulsive, instant – gratification imperatives of modern living. There is no better way to appreciate the significance of a community that has been around for over 250 years than to put on the brakes for a few hours to slow down and take the time to look around, to soak it up, to literally sniff the roses. There is a special patina here worth examining that consists not only of beautiful flowers and mature trees and shrubs, well weathered wood structures of lumber you can’t find at Home Depot, and much-used stones that now frame flower beds, but once may have ground grain, or formed part of a wall or foundation. Some of it is much more subtle – an attitude, a willingness to share, not only the pretty things, but humble gardens and hints of necessary activities that went on in back yards. Being welcomed into the alley conjures up that special sense of being invited in, but not being treated as “company” a special, deeper, more sincere kind of hospitality.

There will be activities in the War Memorial Building symbolic itself, of conflicts and losses still remembered, and the former religious structure no longer required by social upheaval of a divided nation. On the second floor a “high tea” will be served that will meet all expectations of the better things in life leisurely conversations over a tasty repast to be savored, not just consumed. Below on the first floor, the Friday Painter will share what their perceptive skills and artistic talent have created during their weekly gatherings this past year working at the Presbyterian church or wandering in the nooks and crannies of interesting over-looked places.

The Town Run will continue gurgling its unhurried way through portions of the tour route, under buildings and through back yards. Just before it reaches the precipice to cascade down to the Potomac a portion of the flow will be diverted and strategically deposited at the top of the 40′ over-shot wheel that powers the Thomas Shepherd Grist Mill. As a bonus for the tour you are invited in to see this, another of the still-functioning structures that provide a sense of living history in our little town.

Several hundred earnest volunteers have worked diligently since the beginning of the year helping the SCC prepare for this event. We urge you to come out and enjoy it and get a sense of what a “village” really feels like.

Mike Austin