Be Relevant

Relearning everything we've forgotten.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The 3 Things I Learned at Growing Power

There were a lot more than just 3 things that I learned this past weekend at Growing Power.  But these 3 points have shifted my way of thinking.

1.  We can't exclude anyone anymore.  The context that it was used in was talking about excluding the WalMarts of the world from the organic roundtable.  There tends to be a shared distrust, rightfully so, of corporate America in the environmental/organic realm.  So Will Allen's, CEO and founder of Growing Power, point is that we are at such a tipping point that we can no longer exclude them.  This is a problem that we all need to fix together.

I agree wholeheartedly and I also think that statement encompasses our lives in general.  Let's strip away the obvious connotation of discrimination that a statement like that may induce thoughts of and look at it a little deeper.  How many of you actually let people into your lives?  Including the normal immediate family?  I know that I don't.  I know that I can keep most people at arm's length.  I don't want to open myself up to be vulnerable to their needs.  So I exclude people from thoughts and actions.  My sense of community starts with me at the epicenter and encompasses all of those within my wall of shared beliefs. But it cannot be that way anymore.  We, collectively, are a single entity and to exclude anyone is akin to not listening to our conscience.

2.  Its about building the relationships.  I took a composting class while I was there.  During this class we had to build an urban compost pile made out of wood pallets and hardware cloth.  Then we had to fill it.  The first layer was wood chips about 4 inches deep.  This is the carbon layer.  The next layer was vegetables and fruit also 4 inches deep.  This is the nitrogen layer.  The layer after that was 4 more inches of carbon.  Then 4 more inches of nitrogen.  Then carbon.  Then nitrogen.  All the way to the top with the last layer being carbon.

When we were done Will Allen asked us if we were surprised at the amount of material required to fill the compost bin?  Everyone said yes because it had taken at least two dozen produce boxes and numerous shovels of wood chips to fill it.  Then in passing, and I am not sure how many people heard him, he said, "Its not about getting the materials its about building the relationships to get the materials."

It stuck with me and it resonated.  Everything about farming is about building relationships.  We get so focused on growing the food that we overlook the relationship between the soil and the plant or the plant with the environment.  More to the point, life is about building relationships.  We become so focused on the end results in life that we don't focus on what really matters: the relationship.  If we build and nurture the relationships, the results will take care of themselves.

3.  Be relevant.  On Saturday night I awoke at midnight and stayed awake till almost 4 in the morning.  My brain just turned on and wouldn't turn off.  I think I was just excited about what I had learned that day and how I could implement that into the farm I volunteer at and eventually my own.  Yet there was another feeling/thought that I had.  I couldn't help but feel very small next to Will Allen.  Besides the fact he is a large man I felt my entire being was small.  My accomplishments in life pale in comparison to his.

I realized in the course of my insomnia that the difference between him and I came down to relevancy.  We both want to help and we both want to do good.  There are real problems that the community within which Growing Power resides faces.  Growing Power has been set up to answer those problems.  Growing Power is relevant to it's community.  The majority of our actions, though good, are not relevant to the problems we face.  Most of the things we have, if we are honest about it, aren't relevant either.  Most people, myself included, tend to judge actions through the lenses of efficiency and effectiveness.  I think we should start measuring it against relevancy.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Before shaving, one should know what razor is good for his skin. Razors are something personal and it is up to the user what type of razor would give him the closest shave possible, but of course, with less nicks and cuts.

    Male Grooming

  4. I agree that a razor is something personal. Its more reason to build a long and lasting relationship with your razor. Something that can't be accomplished with a disposable razor or mindset.

    As for closeness of shave I don't think that it comes down to type of razor per se. Of course I'm a straight razor convert and that is definitely a type of razor. But more specifically it comes down to the edge on the blade. Most commercial blades use a laser to cut their edges and they get them very fine indeed. And any lack of quality in the blade is made up by quantity. When you have 5 blades one is likely to catch "stragglers".

    However, i like the control over the quality of the edge that a straight razor gives me. So the closeness of the shave becomes a factor of my diligence not on the type of razor used.