If you’re a Market at the Square regular, or a local music scene regular, or someone who is the least bit interested in backyard gardening — you probably know Lisa Bralts. She and her now husband, Jim, moved to Urbana in 1996 to work for Parasol Records & Distribution. After the birth of their daughter in 1998, Bralts became interested in food and gardening and spent a lot of time learning how to cook and to grow things while homeschooling the kids. Today, she works for the City of Urbana in Economic Development and runs Urbana’s Market at the Square. Bralts lives in what her family calls Pre-Historic East Urbana with her husband, Lilly (11), Cody (18, although he’s moving out soon), three cats, a huge garden, and some “terrific” neighbors.
See why we think Lisa Bralts is a Chambana mom to know.
I love doing it, even though it requires a lot of time and discipline just to make a 5-6 minute piece,especially when you’re working full-time. I was a DJ in college and was involved in community radio here with WEFT and WRFU for several years, but had never done radio journalism. Dave gave me some equipment to use, and I do just about everything but stitch it together, which he does at the studio. I do all my interviews, I capture my own sound, I write my pieces and decide where the sound will go, and I record my own essay. It’s kind of awesome, even though I’m not very good at it yet and have a lot to learn. I’ll never listen to a radio segment the same way every again, I can tell you that much.
Also? The internet is a wonderful thing when it comes to staying in touch. He had fabulous internet access where he lived in Cairo and we were able to video chat once a week or so, not to mention IM and email whenever we needed to. I could also follow along on Twitter and Facebook – Cody is REALLY GOOD at using social media – and figure out what was going on even when his posts weren’t directed at me specifically. He also posted photos and occasionally would post totally bizarre status updates that made me wonder just what on earth was going on over there.
Q: We appreciate all you have done as the director of Market at the Square, especially the Sprouts program for kids (coming up this Saturday!). Of course we get to enjoy it, but what is a typical Market Saturday like for you?
One thing I love about the Market is that it’s this organic, ever-changing thing – no two Saturdays are the same thanks to so many external factors – weather, no-shows, what’s in season, other events bringing people in (or taking them away), etc. It’s part of what I love so much about it. But I do have a bit of a routine.
My biggest fear is sleeping through my alarm, so I set three of them (4:30, 4:30, and 5 AM) and make my husband set one, too (sorry, baby!). I get dressed really quickly, gather my stuff, and ride my bike to my office at the City building in Urbana. I load my truck with Market stuff (T-shirts, bags, brochures, etc) and then, after meeting my staff at 5:30, hit Starbucks for some coffee. I’m on-site at the Market by 5:45.
Market days usually go by really quickly, especially if the weather’s good. Good weather means lots of people come out and the produce is really photogenic and everyone is in an excellent mood – we’ve had a lot of that this season, despite the heat, and I’m grateful. Cold and/or rainy days move a bit slower. Whatever the weather, I’m always working at the Market. The Saturday part of my job is equal parts waitress, mom, teacher, and City representative, so I never sit down. It’s a wild balance to pull off, especially when there’s so much activity happening all at once – I’ll be talking to a patron about a non-Market issue, but then catch a whiff of a cigarette, and on the way to deal with that, stop to direct someone to a booth they’re looking for (after running 68 markets in my career thus far, I can usually help people find someone they’re looking for on minimal clues), and hand out receipts to vendors while chasing the smoker. The Market closes at noon, but after we tear down, I retreat back to my office for another two hours of paperwork and reconciliation. I’m usually home by 2:30, and that’s when I take a glorious, glorious nap.
Do you know of a Chambana mom or dad to know? We love nominations!