While many idealistic, underground community organizations will taper off after their first or second year of operation -- due to poor organization, lack of funding, or internal drama -- the Denver Handmade Homemade Market has proven the cynics wrong, staying not only alive and vital after two years of operation, but have achieved the noun most coveted by any business venture: Growth. "The general consensus in the [Handmade Homemade] community is to have the event larger and more often," says event organizer Dani Langworthy. And this ambition manifests itself this Saturday, July 14 when the Denver Handmade Homemade Market (often referred to as HaHo) joins forces with EarthLinks, a local non-profit that provides Green workshops for unemployed homeless. "But we want to remain a place for vendors who are just getting started. We want to maintain a local, community aspect. We don't want it to get too big and become unavailable to those folks."
Langworthy only recently took over management of HaHo -- along with Stephen Toma -- earlier this year, when event founders Kylie Manson and Matt Gettleman retired from the position. "We were volunteers last year. And then Matt and Kylie held a town-hall meeting, looking for their replacements, and Stephen and I went through a process with them. We've been doing essentially the same set-up that they established: once a month at Green Spaces." Along with that, Langworthy is continuing the routine of providing over thirty vendors of locally produced meals, baked goods, jewelry, an eclectic variety of crafts, and entertainment provided by a live band. This Saturday will present the music of Lindsay and the Lost Caravan, and will be located at EarthLinks instead of Green Spaces
"But we are going to be implementing some changes," Langworthy continues. "We are going to be bringing in more vendors. This Saturday we will have a screen-printer, along with a vendor bringing in hand-made tote-bags to screen-print. And we'll be having workshops on being a vendor, or starting a small business. And we still have the Denver Dough, our own alternative currency with a one-to-one exchange rate on the U.S. dollar; that's something we'd like to expand on, but it is a lot of work."
While HaHo does provide an amazing variety of niche products like home-made goat cheese, self-published sci-fi novels or hand-knitted, cruelty-free clothing items, one of the most common reasons a patron will visit HaHo is for the community aspect. Unlike the mall or even many farmers markets, HaHo vendors and shoppers often meet and socialize, forming friendships that are rekindled month after month. "We encourage people to stick around and hangout," Langworthy says. "People don't just walk through once and leave, they hang out and get to know each other. And this way you get to talk to the people who made the products. Subsequently there tends to be a lot of eating going on."
The Denver Handmade Homemade Market continues this Saturday, July 14 from 4 to 8 p.m. at EarthLinks, located at 2828 Larimer Street. There is a suggested donation of $2-5 at the door, or a donation to the community table. For more information visit www.denverhaho.org
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