Dan was my friend, but I also worked with him at Urbana’s Market at the Square and was very interested in what he was doing as a local food producer (c’mon, bean-to-bar chocolate? In Urbana? But of course!). We talked, too, quite a bit about the community kitchen idea and how it would be a huge boost to incubating small food producer activity in Urbana-Champaign. We had seen several producers stop what they were doing after out local health department began enforcing previously-unenforced rules and how this was changing the face of the farmers market, and we agreed that a community kitchen would be one way around this issue.
In addition to running the farmers market, I do short segments called “In My Backyard” that air on Fridays for C-U’s NPR affiliate, WILL 580-AM, and have to do with local food and DIY projects. I just started doing this work in June 2010, and of course Dan made the short list of people I wanted to talk with early on, since I knew him, I was already familiar with his story, and I knew something about Flatlander would be the perfect addition to the small roster of pieces I’d already created.
I wasn’t wrong. He was fantastically helpful and funny while giving me the straight dope on what had happened between when I met him in August 2009 (the day he gave me some chocolate to try while I was working at the Market one day and I was all, you have to sell this here next year! And I was so thrilled when he did!) and the day we did the interview in mid-July 2010. My biggest regret is that the piece had to be so short – such are the constraints of radio – and I wasn’t able to include more of his anecdotes. While I thought I knew his story, I learned a lot that Sunday afternoon about Dan and about Flatlander. The space felt good. He was the proprietor. Things were happening.
The piece aired for the first time on WILL on Friday, July 23, 2010.
I asked WILL to take the piece down for a bit after his death – it’s hard to know the right thing to do in those confused hours and days immediately following a catastrophe, and then we felt text needed to be added to the web to reflect recent events – but it’s back online and streamable from anywhere in the world at any time. It will also air again this Friday, August 13, at 2:50 central time on the station.