24 June 2014

i'm a nuisance.

Well, where to start? It has taken me a few days to reflect on everything that has happened in the past couple of weeks, not only just as the owner of a small business (River City Eatery has been wonderfully busy!), but as an active member of my community trying to convince city leaders and decision makers of our community who have the power to grasp the controversy of the pallet patio in a positive way to move the community forward. In all honesty, I’m exhausted, but energized at the same time because all of my passions, personal and professional, collided last week, and I have no doubt in my mind I could write an entire book on River City Eatery’s Pallet Patio story, and I’m not kidding either. So, maybe that’s just what I’ll have to do because it was all so exciting, so energizing and proved to be an eye opener for not only myself, but should prove to be a little bit of an eye opener for the community of Windom, and that is pretty cool.

Chapter 1: The Facts

Chapter 2: The Spirit of Community and Its Energy

Chapter 3: Setting a Precedence and Its Effect on Local Economy and Community

Chapter 4: Making Decisions and Not Making Decisions: Fear of the Unknown

Chapter 5: Promoting Positive Change through Action and Reaction

Chapter 6: Embracing Controversy to Progress and Move Forward

Chapter 7…well, you get the idea…

I’ve had my blogspot.com “New Post”open for 5 days now. Typing, deleting, leaving it for another time, coming back to the blank page, typing, deleting again. Why has this been one of the toughest posts to write and complete? I’m overwhelmed with thoughts, ideas, frustrations, excitements, and so much to reflect on. This isn’t about a Pallet Patio anymore—it’s so much more. Where do I even start?

So, now I’ve finally decided that the very first post to write regarding the Pallet Patio must be to thank everyone who has shown their support because you are the heroes in this story that I will tell in print someday. Wow. I’m grateful, blessed, humbled, excited and feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have such wonderful people both living in my community and not living in my community who are willing to stand up and say, “SAVE THE PALLET PATIO!” because you are the ones who see what I see in Windom-a freakin’ awesome place to live, work and play.

The energy from your support last week, the week before, even this week so far, heck since I opened River City Eatery, has been what gave me the courage to challenge the silly precedence the City of Windom was trying to set because River City Eatery is more than just a small business to me-it is my life, my dream, my passion, and that is worth fighting for.

I have given up time with my precious and patient son, my dedicated husband whose integrity is inspiring and gives our son a true role model of a decent man, my amazing mom who has been battling stage IV cancer, yet she still shows up at River City Eatery with her chemo attached at her waist to help however she can, thank you for your understanding and patience when I couldn’t give you what you needed from me because my priority has been chasing this crazy dream that I have to continue to struggle for. Thank you to my dad who continues to take pride in the work we have done to fix and endlessly maintain the brick and mortar of my dreams, my brother and sister-in-law, my friends who have been by my side encouraging me and helping any way they could to see this dream come to fruition, and my staff, my other family, you all play a vital role at River City Eatery and you all probably know more about me than you care to, and for that I thank you. You mean the world to me, each and every one of you.

I put every chip I had into the kitty, over 12 years in the making, in order to open River City Eatery because I believe with all my heart this is what I was put on this Earth to do. And holy cow, the foundation of my dream, River City Eatery, is strong with the support of not only my family and friends, but my community and the patrons of River City Eatery and that makes the 16-18 hour days, swollen feet, and sleepless nights worth it. To all of you who believe in River City Eatery, patronize River City Eatery, I cannot thank you enough for making my dream possible every single day. I’m astonished at how much support I had during this difficult time, Just on Facebook alone, the Save the Pallet Patio Event has reached over 4,000 people-that is what I call a strength in numbers! It is all these things that make River City Eatery such an amazing place, a place to be proud of community of Windom because you helped create it! This is what love, patience, hard work, dedication, and support from family, friends and a community can do, what power we all have to do good things!!

At the end of the Nuisance Board meeting, I may have lost a little bit of control of my emotions, the tears came unannounced. It was not because the Pallet Patio was officially considered a nuisance by the City of Windom, but because I was absolutely overwhelmed by support, and I really wish I could tell you just how much that means to me. You should be proud.

An African Proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I hate to say it folks, but the work mustn’t end here, we must continue to move forward, to stand up for what we believe in, to challenge silly presendences that hold our community back from creative and wonderful things that not only supply a positive community gathering place, but stimulates our rural economy. We can move this community forward together, but we must continue to be willing to listen to understand, engage in our community, and voice our legitimate concerns to our city leaders and decision makers because we are the experts in our community, and we should be heard.

This is where my story of my ceaseless passion and a City who has labeled it a nuisance begins, may the continuing chapters of my story remain positive, no matter who tries to cut me off at the knees.

Long live River City Eatery and the Pallet Patio!

Happy times,

“To seek, to thirst, to yearn, to meander…is, by nature, human. So, darlings, let’s journey forth, choosing contentment through the seeking and the finding, measuring any weariness on our shoulder against the greater truth that says we have it in us. Let us discover a strength, a certain resolve to have eyes to see beauty where we are told it can’t be found, and a bravery to reach deep into that pure, rich water of our soul and find the courage to let it spill out onto a world in need.”

-Sarah Dubbeldam, Editor-in-Chief, Darling Magazine

12 June 2014

concerned citizens.

As you all know, the City of Windom has sent River City Eatery a City Code Violation regarding our beloved pallet patio (please refer to past post containing the violation letter).  On Thursday, June 19th, I must meet in front of the Windom Nuisance Board, and they will determine the fate of my patio.  I have created an event on Facebook asking for the community's support in order to save the pallet patio.  I have received so much support it makes me believe good will prevail!  Of course, as you all know, I will remain professional and poised in order to do all I can do as an active member of this community and to protect its reputation.  For the last almost 4 years since the inception of Finding Windom and my blog, I have tried to remain positive and use positivity to promote progression in our community in order for Windom to have a legitimate rural existence in today's world.  Since I have not heard much from city leaders, I thought it would be appropriate to express my concerns about the action taken against River City Eatery's patio:
Dear City Council and City Administrator,

It’s me again, your biggest cheerleader, Mari Harries. As someone who genuinely cares for her hometown and its reputation, I want to express my concerns with what is going on in the Building and Zoning Department. As elected officials of the great City of Windom, I hope you have been informed of my recent letter sent by Mr. Kartes, the Building and Zoning official for the City of Windom. I have attached it for your information. I’m hoping you will take the time to read it and take the time to fully understand what this City Code Violation letter means. I appreciate the updated nuisance abatement procedure; however, I ask you to research this violation letter sent to me by the Building and Zoning official by not just asking Mr. Kartes what the ordinances may be, but by also talking to your fellow community members and myself. I’d love for you to research it by physically stepping into my business, heck, stay all day because I’d love for you to meet the wonderful people I get to meet every day who come to River City Eatery and are craving not only my menu items, but craving a Windom experience that gives each of them endless reasons to come back. And, I’d love for you to personally enjoy my pallet patio. I ask you, after reading for yourselves the City’s Codes and Ordinances to see if this pallet patio is truly a public nuisance because if it is against City Code, you have made a very big mistake, I’m afraid. I’m asking you to start holding yourselves accountable to truly knowing the community you live in and the people hired to keep it up to the standards we all deserve. I’m asking you to take a stance on the can of worms this man, who works for our great city, has opened. I’m simply trying to prepare you for what may happen by targeting River City Eatery's Pallet Patio instead of focusing on legitimate, ongoing Nuisance Abatement issues within our community. The nuisance issues that truly affect public health and safety.

You see, as a small business owner who uses social media as a vital, necessary marketing tool, I’ve made this City Code Violation public by using social media because I have never been so disappointed in my home and feel the public, and you, deserve better than the archaic principles of this hypothetical code violation. I’ve also shared this Code Violation Letter because my customers and guests deserve to know the potential fate of the beloved Pallet Patio, a positive community gathering place. I’ve made this letter available for the world to see on the world-wide-web, so please, pretty please, act wisely because the last thing you and I want is for Windom to have a negative reputation, especially a negative reputation of City government. We also don’t want the kind of reputation that negatively influences the infinite possibilities of future small businesses in our community.

I’m not trying to sway you one way or the other, I just want you to know the weight of the action taken by sending this City Code Violation regarding River City Eatery’s Pallet Patio may prove to be heavy as many people are just as disappointed as myself regarding this violation. Many people will be showing support at this Nuisance Board meeting on Thursday, June 19th at 7pm at the City Council Chambers. So please take the time to get to know this case as I’m sure there will be many people there with questions. I value your reputation as a City Council-I hope you are aware of the power you all have to do wonderful things! And also have the power to do not so wonderful things, but those not so wonderful things don’t give people what they are craving, which is a delightful reason to return, stay, live, work and play in beautiful downtown Windom.

As the founder of Finding Windom, a small business owner, an advocate for community pride, a steward for a legitimate rural existence, and now after seeing the countless comments and concerns regarding the fate of River City Eatery’s Pallet Patio on social media, I urge you to challenge yourself to find the right answer or at least do something to move our community forward in a positive way so we can all have a legitimate rural existence in today’s progressive and ever-changing world. This has always been and will continue to be my mission for our community, and I hope you agree.

I’m sharing my concerns with you because I genuinely want Windom to be all it can be, and you have the power to help, both as a city council member and as a member of this community, like myself. I wish you could see what I see in Windom-it’s a great place, just like River City Eatery.

I would appreciate your time, your concerns, your discussion, and your questions because these are things that move our community forward in a positive way. My door is always open and always welcoming. Communication is always important.

Will always continue to remain your cheerleader and remain an active member in the community who has shaped the person I am today,