Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Please Welcome Debby Mayne!

Day 1

amish 054_1photo © 2008 deeptrivia more info (via: Wylio)

When I first started thinking about writing a Mennonite series in Sarasota, Florida, I realized I needed to do quite a bit of research. Once I got started, I became intrigued by the culture of this blend of a variety of Mennonite groups that have come together as they migrated from other parts of the country.

The delightful year-round moderate weather has attracted groups of Mennonites and Amish who started out taking their vacations in Florida and then decided to make Sarasota their home. Over time their numbers have grown, and there is now a thriving community of people who life the "plain" life in a town that is also known for sandy beaches and the Ringling Circus, Center for the Cultural Arts, and Museum. Some of the Mennonites and Amish people purchased land for farms, while others started businesses or worked in town. Many of them live in Pinecraft, a community of small rental homes.

Sarasota is a bustling beach town, so rather than use horse-and-buggy transportation, most of the Conservative Mennonites and Amish residents ride adult-sized three-wheelers, often called "bikes" for short jaunts around the community. They attach baskets, boxes, and wagons if they need to haul groceries or other items. For longer trips, they take advantage of public transportation or hire private independent drivers.

Since there are several order of Mennonite and Amish groups from different states, visitors may be surprised to see that new traditions have formed from a blend of the different cultures. Some of the businesses run by Mennonite and Amish families are popular restaurants featuring home-cooked meals, souvenir shops, roadside produce stands, and a weekly Farmer's Market.

In order to bring more authenticity to my stories, I went down to visit the Pinecraft community, since it's not far from where I live. I spoke with a few Mennonite and Amish people who guardedly answered some questions. After I returned home, I made some calls to more contemporary Mennonite churches, and I was fortunate to find a man named Lee Miller who had come from the Conservative Mennonite background. He tirelessly answered all my questions because he knew I wanted the details to be authentic.

What fascinates you about the Mennonite and Amish communities?

1 comment:

  1. My mom grew up in a Mennonite church in Ohio, known as Evangelical Mennonite because they preached about salvation. They were not the Old Order Mennonites, who looked a lot like the Amish. It's surprising to me to see Mennonite/Amish people in Florida, although I've heard that they reside in most of the states.