When you spend time in Greece, you notice two things about the country:
First, the place. The landscapes of the Greek Aegean have always inspire passion. The impossibly blue water, the crystal white sands, the dark green forests, the defiant high peaks — all are the stuff of legend. As you hike monk-made paths or row azure seas, the timeless vistas swell your soul. Here, you're part of an epic landscape, a landscape of gods and goddesses, kings and queens, merchant princes, musicians, poets, and more . . . .
Second, the people. Equally well-known is the warmth and kindness of the Greeks themselves. From the largest city to the smallest village, the ancient Greek principle of guest friendship – xenia – is alive and well. When you arrive, it's like coming home. When you depart, you can't wait to return. And always, there's a sense that your heart has always lived there, that your new Greek friends were always waiting for you . . . .
And that brings us to this little enterprise.
In 1997, when I was just starting my PhD at the University of Athens, I met Mr. Eugene Ladopoulos. Mr. Ladopoulos was the husband of my dissertation adviser, Professor Olga Palagia. Eugene had asked me to come to his warehouse to help put labels on a few hundred bottles of extra virgin olive oil, his very first batch of "liquid gold" to be sent to the U.S.. Mr. Ladopoulos’s family had owned land and olive trees near ancient Sparta for generations, but this was his first attempt to bottle and sell his own oil in America. We sat together, joked, and worked while he told me tales of his land and its legacy.
Fast forward to 2004, just before I moved back to Moorhead. Mr. Ladopoulos and I were chatting about the possibility of me bringing a couple of bottles of his liquid gold home to share with friends.
“Why not?” He shrugged. “Everyone loves good things.”
That simple sentence now seems rather profound.
Everyone loves good things.
That idea rests at the heart of this project.
This project is about sharing good things. It's about bringing communities together. It's about caring for Creation and its bounty. It's about sharing stories, sharing traditions, and sharing the best that our friends around the world have to offer.
I invite you to weave yourself into this story, to celebrate something pure, and to share some good things.