Honor, Stands

There is a farmstand in a Rhode Island town where I have spent a fair amount of time over the last several decades. In the summer, the place bustles with energy—selling everything from fresh tomatoes to cheeses to cuts of meat. Not surprisingly, it serves as a gathering place to exchange local gossip for some and a convenient stop for others who want to forgo the six-mile drive across state lines to the nearest grocery store.

Over Thanksgiving break, we stopped by to get a few last-minute items we had forgotten to pick up. No one was behind the counter to take our money; instead, there was a box full of cash and a Venmo QR code, with a note asking customers to take the change they needed or pay virtually. Trust.

In this town, Honor Stands are not unique—herbs, firewood, eggs, flowers, strawberries, and corn sit atop old milk crates or re-engineered lemonade stands with a weather-worn coffee can or cigar box. The price is written in magic marker, and if you need to make change, you work it out. 

It works because the community has decided that it should. These stands are not hobbies; they are a vital part of helping make ends meet and supporting the local farmers and artisans. With all the talk about a fractured me-first society, it is heartening to see the impact of these simple acts of generosity and trust. 

Similarly, PolyHonor reminds us of our responsibility to the community. To be sure, it isn’t always easy to embrace the ‘greater good,’ particularly when the community asks us to step back or slow down so others can be heard. However, two truths can exist here if we don’t view being part of a community as a zero-sum game, i.e., I win only if you lose. We are at our best when we understand our role in shaping and, at times, demanding the kind of community we want. In those moments of clarity, we recognize how lucky we are to learn and work in a community willing to trust one another and thrive doing so.