When you spend time in Greece, you immediately notice two things.
First, the place. The landscapes of the Greek Aegean have always been awe inspiring. The impossibly blue water, the crystal white sands, the dark green forests, the defiant high peaks — all are stuff of legend. As you hike monk-made paths or row azure seas, 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 still 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 and that your new Greek friends had been waiting for you all along . . . .
That brings us to this 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. One morning, Mr. Ladopoulos 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" that he ever 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 olive oil in America. We sat together, we joked, and we worked while he told me the tale of his land and its legacy.
Fast forward to 2004. I had just moved back to the U.S., to Moorhead, MN to start my job teaching art history at Concordia College. Mr. Ladopoulos and I were chatting about the possibility of me bringing a couple cases of bottles of liquid gold over to the U.S. to share with my friends, family, and community. I told him that I wasn't sure, but that I thought I might know some folks who would value his ecological sensibilities, his care for tradition, and the extraordinary high quality of his oil.
“Let's try it.” He smiled. “Everyone loves good things.”
That little sentence now seems rather profound.
Everyone loves good things.
Indeed, that simple idea now rests at the heart of this project.
This project is about sharing good things.
It's about bringing our communities together.
It's about caring for Creation, our shared planet and its bounty.
It's about sharing stories, sharing traditions, and sharing the best that our friends from around the world have to offer.
I invite you to weave yourself into this story, to celebrate something pure, and to share with us some good things.