When you spend time in Greece, you notice two things about the country:
First, the place. The landscapes of the Greek Aegean have always inspired. 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 fill your soul. In Greece, you're part of an epic landscape, a landscape of gods and goddesses, queens and kings, 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 in Greece, that your new Greek friends had been waiting for you all along . . . .
And that brings us to this little project.
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 the U.S., to Moorhead, MN. Mr. Ladopoulos and I were chatting about the possibility of me bringing a couple cases of bottles of his liquid gold home to share with my friends, family, and community. I told him that I wasn't sure, but that I knew some folks who would value his ecological sensibilities, his regenerative practices, his care for his land, and the extraordinary high quality of his oil.
“Let's try it.” He smiled. “Everyone loves good things.”
That simple sentence now seems rather profound.
Everyone loves good things.
Indeed, that simple 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.
And 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.