Despite living in a hyper-connected world, we are a society of fractured communities, people not knowing who their neighbors are, families scattered across states or even countries.
The flip side of that, as a good friend once said, is that you can make your own community wherever you are.
That's certainly the case with the restaurant and food community here in greater Charleston. The Feed the Need initiative was started by Charleston Grill manager Mickey Bakst; many pitched in on a fundraiser organized for caterer Jamie Westendorff after he suffered burns in a cooking accident. And there are many more examples.
That's why it's not surprising that people are already lining up to help Annie Filion in the wake of a fire that burned the barn and killed 100 turkeys at her Keegan-Filion farm last Sunday.
Any foodie, locavore or just plain frequent diner in Charleston has likely seen "Keegan-Filion" on more than one menu description. The farm supplies free range and organic poultry, eggs, pork and beef to many area restaurants, one of a group of local producers embraced and encouraged by the various eat-local movements.
What happened at the farm is terrible, and this week and those following certainly can't be easy.
There are insurance adjusters to meet with and difficult decisions to be made about how to press on after the loss.
And there are multiple pressures, not just to replace the structure but to have a place to raise what will become next year's Thanksgiving turkeys, which must be ordered in January.
Ready and waiting
Frank Lee, executive chef of Slightly North of Broad, said the emails have been going around in the restaurant community since they heard about the fire.
"There are people standing in the wings just waiting" to hear how they can help, he said, rattling off a who's who of chefs -- Sean Brock of Husk, Mike Lata of Fig, Nico Romo of Fish, Fred Neuville of The Fat Hen.
"It appears, quite certainly, that the restaurant community is ready and poised to participate in any fundraising activity Annie would like us to do," he said.
Lee said Filion is known to everyone, sells to everyone and never takes anything even as small as an iced tea when out making her deliveries, so the group may have their work cut out for them as far as extending a helping hand.
The community has grown close-knit over the past 20 years, Lee said, from restaurants working to build relationships with growers and working with them during the rhythm of each season.
In a sad twist of fate, Filion has been the one to lend a helping hand in the past. She was one of the organizers of a barn-raising benefit in February to help Ovis Hill Farms after it lost more than 500 animals in a fire a year ago.
Now some people she helped rally stand ready to help her.
"She's part of this restaurant family," Lee said.
This is what a community does. And even at a time like this, that's something for which to be grateful.