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Flight of the Orange Juice Perspective

September 22, 2012 Leave a comment

The past few months have been intellectually decadent, to say the least. I spent a lot of time “working” according to my time sheets. In that time I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with a lot of different people, from many different areas of life. Some were students I was mentoring, others were scientists, ranchers, performing artists, hunters, educators and, well, the list is just too dang exhaustive to type.

In the spring I was on a short flight heading back home from a meeting, I honestly can’t remember if it was early morning or late late evening. Either way I was tired. And then the stewardess delivered a much appreciated cup of orange juice. Who doesn’t love a cup o’ juice when tired & travelling, slagging away at work stuff whenever you get a spare moment?

As I sat there working away with the OJ on the tray beside me, a thought developed. The curious cup of OJ At a glance towards my liquid delight, my first thought within seconds was: we’re rolling slightly and vibrating at a set frequency. No duh. It’s a plane. This was promptly followed by: why the deuce did I think that? Post hoc explanation within the next minute was that I watched how the juice oscillated and moved around, thinking of how it was transmitting the movement of the plane and that not only was there vibration at a certain frequency causing a repeatable pattern of rings moving in the horizontal plane, but we were also likely tipping side to side a bit based on the shifting of the surface of the juice relative levels of juice at each side of the cup. Both of which were discernible to me because of the reflection of the light on the surface of the juice changing with motion of the juice relative to the incidence of the light.

Yup. Nerded that up.

I debated sharing the deconstruction of that thought process, largely because when I did most people just laughed and said it was because I was working too hard or just a big geek. Neither remark really bothered me, but I just felt that a bigger concept was at play. Perspective.

Although the discussions these past months have been over a wide variety of topics, I couldn’t help but circle back to my flying OJ experience when the topic arose of conflict. Especially when discussing the progression of “ag-vocacy” and inevitably with the arrival of the fall hunting season. Conflict is present in many things, but agriculture and hunting are two that I’m currently exposed to a lot. I recently went hiking with a hunter, encountered a “small” bear while I was on my own. Personally, the bear seemed damn huge at 10 ft away, but of all things what struck me was the curiosity in the face and gestures. Thankfully the encounter wasn’t detrimental for either the bear or I. After the hike, the hunter (a former guide from the north) gave me a book I just finished, Grizzly Heart. The book is about using a difference perspective for sharing the world with “dangerous” animals.

In the book Charlie Russel and Maureen Enns (an Alberta rancher and an artist) use a different perspective on bears, one that encompasses actually trying to understand the bears’ perspective on space, resources etc., to make sharing space with them possible not only for them in their remote cabin, but also for villages in the surrounding area. The book reminded me of my view of the flying OJ, and how it is just a different perspective on something. People’s responses just didn’t encompass that perspective.

I keep taking the OJ and the grizzlies back to ag-vocacy and the brewing discomfort that I have been developing with it. Sometimes it seems like a large amount of support for agriculture and attempts to “educate” about agriculture don’t encompass that other perspectives are seeing things in a whole different way. A lot of people may recognize that there are other perspectives on agricultural production. But I often am left wondering if people take the time to really try and see the world through the other eyes, how those eyes see the conflict and what we, as humans, might have to re-learn if we are going to peacefully share the world.

Reverse thinking on Earth Day & Generation Lost

April 22, 2012 Leave a comment

HAPPY PLANT-WE-INHABIT DAY! (a.k.a. earth day)

So, let’s celebrate where we are. Both in time and space; on earth, right now. Let’s celebrate with some reverse thinking.

There’s lots of events around today to gorge on the good and damn the damaging. I was asked if I was going to post about the wonders of certain aspects of the cattle production system in Canada and how it’s integral to maintaining the environment, rather than the destructive effect that the media loves to pin on it. Quite literally, every day really is earth day for many farmers and ranchers. And I’m working on a video for that, but I’ve got something more important to say.

I thought of posting to illuminate some of the less thought of effects of our love for new technology. How it would be a totally ironic post because I would be writing using technology and you would be reading using technology, and all it all contributes to destructive effects on our earth. So the green tech revolution ain’t so green. No duh really, I mean stuff doesn’t just disappear because we throw it out and the rate of tech innovation means higher rate of tech replacement, ergo disposal. The initial title was even “Is E for Environment or Waste?”. But no, there’s something more important than tech satire.

I opened my e-mail this morning to a note from a dear and loving friend, subject “Inspiring“. He knows I love rhetoric, literature and media. We’re quite the pair when we get into discussions, let me tell you! And even though we’re miles apart, he has awed me again.

This is the video he linked me to. So amid all the Earth Day events keep this in mind fellow young ‘uns.

What Ag Innovation is going to FAIL

April 20, 2012 4 comments

oooooh, dooom!  glooom! AAAAAAAAH FAILURE!

Stick with me here. I’m going to share a though on why Ag Innovation is doomed to fail, and what twitter and other social media have to do with it.

There’s a lot of talk about the need to invest in innovation in Agriculture in recent months. Just google “Agriculture Innovation”. It was one of the questions when I was a CYL candidate, and it was brought up again for this year’s group.

But here’s the thing: Innovation, of any kind, is going to fail.

Now, I don’t fancy my self a true innovator. Or at least not yet. So maybe I should just keep my yap shut until I actually do something. But you see, I’m in the process of it. I think. As a student, I’m in the process of creating an innovative brand for myself that, hopefully, will land me a sweet job when/if I graduate (yes, some days I do wonder if I’ll ever get there, but that’s another story). And I don’t see enough of the conversation about innovation being realistic about the process. We’re sick with destination fever. So worried about where we’re going we’re forgetting about how we get there.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

School teaches us that there’s something horrid about being wrong. But in being innovative you’re not going to get it right on the first, second, third or maybe even 30th, try. And innovation requires that you try (fail) try (fail) try again. At least that’s what history’s and today’s innovators say. So I’m thinking they might know.

If we’re truly going to foster innovation in Ag, we need to give failing an big ol’ bear hug and get used to it. Yes, I’m saying accept failure. But never, ever ever ever, accept failure as “good enough” or as the end point and just leave it with “well, I tried”. That, my friend, would, ummmmm, well I can’t even think of how to describe that. It would just be bad, ok?

Part of failure is being ashamed of it. And shame is this really cool, interesting, curious thing. So get shame in that big ol’ bear hug too! Maybe that’s were social media comes in. It is a connection tool that’s rather instantaneous and worldwide. Putting out a tweet about how frustrating some failure is, and you get tweets back of understand and support. Maybe some connection will further your idea, help your innovation become more than an idea. Maybe social media is one of the ways we’ll get Ag Innovation from a hot topic into a wildfire. Or maybe it’s something the innovators out there might want to consider.

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