The GSBA Blog


Featured Member: Sugarpill, Karyn Schwarz

by Karyn Schwarz, July 2017 Featured Member
| Jul 22, 2017

karyn schwarz sugarpill featured member july 2017 300width blog“The other day, I received a postcard in the mail from a person who lives and works in the neighborhood, and who walks past my door almost every day. The last line of the notes reads: ‘It makes me feel so safe just knowing that you are on the block.’

My grandmother knew everyone on the block in her small, mostly immigrant town. We’d walk into shops where she would say hello and catch up on news or gossip, and then just let herself behind the counter, gather what she needed and scratch a note in the shopkeeper’s ledger books to let them know what she was taking, and then ask if that person needed anything before we went on our way. Rarely was any money exchanged, and if it was, there would first be a great fuss about how unnecessary payment was. Everyone owed everyone a favor, which made currency less something that could be counted or accumulated, and more a constant tide of connection, flowing out and returning again as needed. People took care of each other because they had to, and because that is what we are supposed to do.

When I was a kid, I was very likely to be found dreaming on a low branch of a low tree, or making ink from the chokecherries that vexed my mom every summer, or playing “store” by constructing elaborate displays of mysterious goods made from whatever I could find and arranging them on tiny shelves that a person could inspect, choose from and trade for whatever random treasure they might have in their pocket. Turns out, this would all become the basis for what I have found myself doing now.

I got lucky. I had some big challenges in life that forced me to seek out help in ways that I did not know were available. As is generally true of real healing, these new possibilities led me in directions I had not planned to go, and required me to let go of things that I thought I wanted in order to find what I really needed. I never set out to do what I do; it just happened as I followed the path of my own interests over many years, and scrapped together a living as I sought out a deeper understanding of what it means to heal, what it means to take care of yourself and of others, and what it means to create resilience personally as well as collectively.

SugarPill is my best attempt at creating a job for myself that utilizes all of my fairly disparate and not particularly marketable skills, but more than that, it is my own public gesture of fostering community in a city that has increasingly buckled under development strategies that favor only a very few, and which seems to cherish technology over everyday humanity.

We need connection. This tiny shop is just one tiny place on one block where you can find that, and so much more, when you walk in the door.

SugarPill a member of the GSBA because they don’t just understand that; they champion it. No other agency has done more to support me in the nearly 7 years since the inception of my business than the GSBA, and I am not certain I would have made it this far without their guidance, appreciation and love for me and for all of their members.”