(This guest post is written by Nicole Underwood, who works in Phoenix, lives in Tempe and takes the Light Rail everywhere.)

Dear Open Market
Every time I go to the open market, I am filled with incredible joy and positivity. This place has a magic about it that is hard to ignore. People here come from all over to share their foods and talents with nearby residents.

And the food is amazing! Fruits and vegetables of all kinds, naturally grown and ready to enjoy, entice the viewer with their vibrant colors. The fragrance of fresh breads and sauces fill the air and are free to sample, all served by smiling faces of the food artisans. People who carve, mold, bead, weave, stamp, weld, and whittle openly share their wonderful stories and designs.

Downtown Voices

THIS is community.

You look around and you can see it: countless expressions of delight, engaging conversations, the darting, dazzled eyes of strolling citizens soaking up the experience.

You close your eyes and you can hear it: healing laughter, charming music, bubbling chatter, smells of cheeses and fragrant flowers, the sounds of pleading children, prying their parents away from the vendors to pay attention to puppies happily roaming next to their owners.

You breathe and you can feel it: Love. People love being here. Vendors love sharing their products. Customers love experiencing the creative collections before them. This is the spirit of the market and it is contagious. It fills you up with the greatest sense of contentment, knowing that THIS is your city, and you have an active part of it.

These people are your neighbors, your friends. You begin to care about them, wanting to support their efforts and have a role in their success. A natural evolution of giving and receiving starts to take place. You realize these people aren’t simply store merchants. They are family. You build a relationship with them, a network of community. And suddenly, the relationships form a life of its own.

Community is born. This is how life was intended to be: to live and do that which you love and to share that love with others, allowing it to flow back from whence it came.

Urban Grocery and Wine Bar

Image courtesy of RailLife.com