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East Side Open Market: Dream Incubator

by Laura Richard

We never know what impact our actions will have on others, but good or bad, they have an effect.

Six years ago, a few commu n i t y – involved people on the East Side decided to start an Open Market to provide an avenue for local farmers and artists to make a living off what they love. Years later, the East Side Open Market has proven to be an incubator that has grown dreams into reality for a number of vendors.

Dreams come in all shapes and size.

Daniel Nennig, Photographer

For photographer Daniel Nennig, it started as a way to keep his grandfather alive in spirit when he inherited his 1970 Canon AE-1 camera in 1999.

By 2003, he was an accomplished photographer and ready to share his work with others. So at the age of fifteen Daniel became the youngest vendor at the market. Three years later, Daniel has saved enough money to buy a new Nikon Digital D705 camera and head off to college in the fall.

Red Hawk Nursery

Christianne and Jay Laing, of Red Hawk Nursery, near Waterloo, Wisconsin, had a dream of buying the land they farmed. They started with the market in its infancy, when times were tough.

Although they live closer to the Madison market, they believed in the mission of the East Side Open Market and had a love for the area, so they stuck with it through thick and thin. Last year, they raised enough money to allow their dream to blossom and closed on the land purchase.

Fasten Co-op

In 2003, Christina Perez and Vanessa Andrew wanted to participate in the market, but as artists, the $20 weekly fee was a bit steep for their pocketbooks. So they decided to do what they do best; be creative. So Fasten Co-operative Clothing Gallery was born.

“Fasten is a cooperative effort to bridge accessibility gaps between the public and artists,” explained owner Vanessa Andrew. “Awareness of art in everyday situations raises quality of life, and we believe in and strive to give emerging artists the opportunity to create work for the public space.”

What started as a way to afford the market fee grew into a store at 2365 S. Howell Avenue in Bay View in November, 2005.

What started as a channel for those trying to live off their love, grew into a place where dreams can come true. The founders never imagined it would become what it did, but they stayed true to their foundation, and the East Side Open Market has experienced continued growth and improvement. Check it out on Saturdays this summer. Listen to the music and see the dreams for sale.

Riverwest Currents online edition – August, 2006