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Posts Tagged ‘Bridge Building’

Yahoo and Agvocating…Time To Look In The Mirror

I can’t help but shake my head in disbelief at some of the responses coming from some in the agricultural community in regards to the article in Yahoo News that listed the “College Majors That Are Useless.”

I am particularly disappointed when I see individuals who are “teaching” others how to utilize social media to agvocate and individuals who have attended training’s, react in such a way.

This article and the one last May were wonderful opportunities to respond in a positive manner and encourage dialogue and conversation on the topic.

However, what ensued were multiple comments, tweets and responses on Facebook that were little more than shouting and bragging…not productive. Read more…

“Control The Conversation…NOT!”

September 27, 2011 11 comments

This post is a result of my seeing multiple posts on Twitter, Facebook and even in print that simply cause me to shake my head and ask, Why?

Why are we so afraid of encouraging people to speak from personal experience?

Why are we so afraid to of encouraging people to share their unique perspective?

Why can’t we embrace differences and work together to solve challenges that we all face…together.

Why?

ENOUGH ALREADY….PLEASE!!!

I am still seeing “professionals” and organizations talking about “controlling the message,” “controlling conversations,” providing “talking points” for those who are going to be in the “spotlight” and not being able or willing to trust people or even their own members.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to be a certain way. Be unique. Be what you feel.”Melissa Etheridge 

NEWS FLASH: People are unique. Perspectives are unique. Everyone has a different story to share, a different way to share it and that is what makes different people interesting to different people.

Positive relationships are developed on mutual trust and respect.

Mutual trust and respect is a result of open and honest conversations.

Open and honest conversations can only occur if individuals share their own story, their own way, in their own words.

If our objective is truly to reach understanding, between those in a respective industry and those outside, all of the individuals must be themselves and speak from personal experience.

Controlling messaging and controlling conversations will never lead to trust, respect or a positive outcome for anyone.

“I am disillusioned enough to know that no man’s opinion on any subject is worth a damn unless backed up with enough genuine information to make him really know what he’s talking about.”H. P. Lovecraft 

 

Sometimes It Takes An Anvil….

September 26, 2011 2 comments

The Anvil

Last Thursday, I was helping my wonderful wife move a trunk of horse show supplies from the tack room to storage. As we were passing through the shop, we passed by my anvil, which I pass by numerous times each day. Thursday, however, as I went by, the end of the anvil caught me in the thigh…even though I had “given it a wide berth” or so I thought.

For those not familiar with anvils, I use ours to shape shoes for the horses and as an aid in the fabrication of steel projects.

For some reason, Job 37:14 popped into my head: “Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the works of God. Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine? Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wonderous works of him which is perfect in knowledge? How thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth by the south wind?”

Too often, we all get absorbed in what we feel is best, become overly concerned in what we can accomplish, care more for getting acknowledgment for our actions or are so engrossed in doing what we think is best, that we forget to “stand still, and consider the works of God.”

The good Lord works in mysterious ways and last Thursday, He used an anvil to remind me to stand still, consider his works and refocus on doing his work, putting others first and reminding me that it more important to build bridges on mutual trust and understanding than to force “education” on others.

It’s about listening…listening with the genuine intent to learn from each other.

Open your minds, open your hearts…

Take a moment to “stand still.”

Must Meet From SXSW

From an #agnerd perspective, SXSW was an amazing experience. It was a great opportunity to be able to be on the AgChat Foundation panel with Chris Chinn, Emily Zweber, Zach Hunnicutt and moderated by Marla Schulman. I took a little different approach to SXSW than most folks. Rather than trying to discover new hardware, software, applications or strategies, I went with the purpose of meeting and interacting with people. I have discovered that genuine and caring people are more often than not, associated with unique, beneficial and useful products and programs. Once again, this premise proved true. I would like to share a few of the people I was able to meet and speak with at SXSW and encourage you to look them up and check out what they have to offer and are involved in. Read more…

Conversations Are Beneficial

Following my post titled Size Is Relative, a respected follower of mine, Joya Parsons (@Kubileya), sent me the following tweet. In it she makes some very poignant statements that everyone in agriculture, no matter the size, commodity or production practice, should take to heart.

She begins:

@JeffFowle No one is throwing stones, but the instant backlash when a hashtag for small farms to connect was suggested is pretty telling as to the attitude coming from over #AgChat way.

I recall seeing several tweets a few days ago using the #smallfarm hashtag and thought to myself that it was a neat idea to provide a unique identifier for one of the groups that help make up agriculture. At the time I did not notice any “condescending” remarks being made, by either side. Later that day, however, I noticed a series of tweets with the new hashtag, promoting small farms (which is great), yet they were also speaking ill of those who were not “small.” This is what prompted me to write my original post. However, I had not noticed the reciprocal mudslinging, so I went back through the tweet stream to try to find out what Joya was describing and sure enough, there were some. Read more…

Size Is Relative

Big is bad, small is good, organic is healthy, conventional kills you, grass-fed is better for you, grain-fed is wasteful, families are good, and corporations are evil…..

The pontificating purveyors of perpetual rhetoric have been rather vocal lately.  Once again, discussion is swarming around the issue of the size of farms and ranches; the proverbial “good vs. evil.”  To most farmers and ranchers, who rely on the productivity of their farm, ranch or forest to maintain a living, it is clear; size is relative.

For decades, individuals and groups have attempted, sometimes successfully, to fracture agriculture; to divide and conquer. Recently, in the past few years, agriculture has begun to come together, setting their differences aside and working together as one, for the benefit of all. This unity and healing of old scars has positioned many, who have relished in conflict, to encounter unknown waters and uncertainty.

Size

In California alone, there are regions where a family can make a living on 1 to 5 acres. In other regions, it requires several hundred and for others more than a thousand acres for a family to survive. Climate, growing days, soil fertility and water availability are a few factors that heavily impact productivity of a farm or ranch. For example, my cousin-in-law has a 4.5 acre flower farm near San Diego, does very well for his family of four and is considered “big.” On the other hand, a good friend of mine, who lives in North Eastern California, is surviving running cattle on more than two thousand acres and is considered “small” compared to his neighbors. When it comes to size, relative productivity is what matters. Irrigated pasture might be able to carry three to five head per acre, while desert range might require 100 acres to carry just one pair. A twenty acre farm in the Salinas Valley might be able to grow three different crops in a year and be financially viable, while a shortened growing season in the Scott Valley, limited to one crop per year, will require three to four hundred acres of grain or hay to be viable.  

Practice

Throughout the day, I could not help but picture the agricultural industry as a circus, each size and type of operation an act. Every act has its moment in the spotlight, just as trends, fads and niches do in real life. That does not make one act or operation good or bad. It is the collection of the diverse acts that makes a show successful. A one-act circus would be hard pressed to sustain business. It is the diversity of agriculture that provides choices to the public. It is the diversity of agriculture that provides choices to producers. Each act or operation offers something unique that meets the needs of a different segment of society. Diversity and variety are what helps keep the marketplace healthy and aids in growing the economy.

Productivity

Furthermore, it is high time to move beyond the belief that all farms and ranches are solely focused on maximizing production. Times have changed. Modern agriculture is about optimizing production. It is about finding balance with yield, profit, input costs, the welfare of livestock, keeping the soil healthy, enhancing wildlife habitat and conserving resources.  The mentality of “get big or get out” is from the past. We must move beyond the idea of preservation and embrace conservation.

The continued labeling of practices and the portrayal of one practice as better than another only serves to perpetuate animosity. Prejudice must end. Minds must open. Listening for understanding must occur. It is time to recognize the importance that all aspects of agriculture play. Small or large, organic or traditional, the ability for families to make a living, while conserving and managing the resources is essential.

Behavior, Brand, Impact

In a very unscientific study, over the course of the past two weeks, I have concluded that individuals must maintain professionalism and civility at all times in social media platforms, even when they have a personal account that is separate from an affiliated company or organization.

Individuals who actively participate in social media platforms are very perceptive and connect individuals with the entities that they are associated with.

In the past two weeks, I have witnessed multiple examples of people who engage in a very polite and responsible manner while posting from an affiliate account. These same individuals, however, when posting through their personal accounts, have been combative, insulting,  immature, degrading, vulgar….and combinations of those afore listed.

What you say, how you say it and how you engage shapes your brand. Personal behavior directly impacts how the public views your brand and the brand of your affiliations. 

In my humble opinion, a shining example of how individual brand  positively impacts their affiliates brand is Rich Harris, from Seagate. In fact, a good friend of mine recently shared that it was Rich’s brand that made the difference when they were trying to decide where to purchase several new hard drives, Seagate.

Alternately, the inverse also holds true.

Public perception of the individual directly impacts the affiliates  one represents and/or participates in.

Keep the brand positive.

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