Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Good Works

Back in November of 2018, I was given the privilege of speaking to a Dr. Ai Wen's class at the University of Northern Iowa.  They gifted me with a host of fantastic questions and I tried to respond them as best as I could in the blog.  The first installment is here in the post titled Queue and A.  I took a quick look at them and realized there is lots of great stuff in those posts.  I took the following from Queue and A Again and I thought I would expand on it after I 'reprinted' the content from the older post.  If you want to see more of these, check out the November 2018 grouping from our blog.

From Nov 2018:
So, I ask you, are you optimistic about the future? My generation and generations that follow all speak about how we want to be progressive and how we want to keep our earth alive, but I constantly wonder if anyone is actually doing anything. We talk a big talk but I’m not sure we walk the walk. I have always been pessimistic when it comes to the environment and those who are in charge, and so I don’t see a bright light at the end of this tunnel. If you are optimistic about the future, what exactly is the change that you’re seeing that makes you optimistic?

I understand where this is coming from.  It can be horribly frustrating when it is so easy to tear something down and freakishly hard to build something up.  I will not lie, I have good days and bad days, probably just like the person who wrote this section in their reflection.  Here is where I land on this:

This is all a matter of choice.  Your choice.  If you want to read another post called A Choice of Litany, you will get a sense of some of the personal process I go through JUST for how I feel about our own farm and my own life as it interacts with the farm.  I am not being the eternal blind optimist who can't see when things are heading the wrong way - I question where things are going and I wonder if anything will make a difference.  In the end, I choose to emphasize those parts of the whole that show a path towards making a difference.

We have more monarchs on our farm than we did when me moved to it

Am I optimistic about the future?  I choose to be optimistic about the future, and I hope you will as well.  Because if both of us make that choice, then that's two of us who will be working to make things better.  Twice my effort.  I'm all for that!

How can we make things better?  We make things better by exercising the best parts of ourselves every single day.  Every meal, ask yourself if you are making choices that promote better food systems.  If the answer is "no," start finding small changes that make that a "maybe."  Then, find more changes that make it a "yes."  Every day, ask yourself if something you are doing or have done could have been done better.  Then - do it better the next time or take steps to remedy a shortcoming in what you have already done.  Put yourself in someone else's shoes every day, especially when you hear yourself criticizing that person.  Find ways to give feedback without tearing down.  See something that isn't right?  Speak out, but do it with integrity.  Check and double check facts, find out if sources are reliable.  Then, when you speak, do it in a way that shows knowledge without belittling others who might not agree or know what you know.

Is it hard?  You bet it is.  Do I always succeed?  Of course I don't.  But, that's part of what makes it worth the effort.  It's a challenge that is worthy of all of us.


So, I fast forward to June of 2020.  What I wrote in 2018 is still me.  And, I am tempted to leave it at what is written there.  But, I wanted to bring it all one step closer to the present day.

Here are some of the small things I am trying to do to make things better.  Perhaps they aren't enough - and maybe some are misguided.  But, I am still going to give it my best shot.  Let's do a matching fund here... match me effort for effort and see how far we can get!

1. I am going to keep trying to learn - I will not rest on what I think I know now because I do not believe I know enough to be the best I can be.

2. The next time one of my farmer peers says, "those damned Mexicans..."  I'm going to call them on it rather than pretend I didn't hear it.

3. I am going to send a letter or email to someone I am concerned about this week.. and the next...

4. I will slow down the lawn tractor or tiller and wait for that toad to get out of the way.

5. I am going to plant another batch of cover crops as soon as the rain stops and the soil lets me.

6. The next time a person asks me a question, I will honor them with a decent, honest and respectful answer.  The next time I ask a person a question, I'll be sure to listen fully to what they have to say.

7. I will not let that piece of trash that blew out of my truck get away from me.

8. Despite the trend towards 'throw-away' products, I will keep trying to find things that can be fixed when they break rather than being thrown and replaced.

9. I will seed many more zinnias and marigolds, even though it is a little late for them, in hopes that the pollinators and wildlife will benefit from them later this year.

10. I will work to give equal weight and power to something positive today instead of allowing a negative statement or event rule how I feel.

11.  I will continue to write as long as others see it as a worthy gift.

This list - it went to 11!  And, as always, I've got more on my personal list.  Be well everyone!

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