Twenty years into an anthropological career rooted in the Imbabura province north of Quito, I still explore the shifting arts, communities and trades in this Andean world. I am drawn to the tenacity of provincial towns and highland communities, people’s working lives and politics. Exploring business investments, trade councils, weaving, painting, consumption, and fiestas, I track the big risks that individuals and households take, the set backs, and the middle ground they seek with neighbors in an effort to prosper. These days, I am particularly interested in the ways that private entrepreneurship and social aspiration creates shared value. It is this commons of culture, work, and wealth that spur dynamic public spheres. In turn, fights over these commons reveal the necessary links between economy and civic life. Since 2008, I have tried to test lessons learned in Ecuadorian community economies for food system change in the United States, especially local food initiatives in North Carolina.