Finding my Tribe

Subverting an entire culture is kind of a big deal.

The deeper I dig into my motivations for agriculture and entrepreneurship, the more I realize that what I really want to do is change the world. Luckily, I’m not alone in this vision. Even better, these other folks who also appear to have lost their minds are warm, wonderful humans.

Uncle Eric is the original tribe member and will always be my favorite engineer and naturalist. Joel Salatin is a farmer-philosopher who wrote the book “Folks, this Ain’t Normal.” Duron Chavis is an urban change-maker who founded the Land Justice Fund. Andy Van Schaack is a Fulbright Scholar, technology forecaster, and behavior modification expert. Eugene Korsunskiy is a design thinking collaborator and founder the Dartmouth Design Collective. Molly Schaus is a former Olympian and co-founder of the Movement-in-a-Box subscription and contributor to Ready, Set, Gold. Glen Howie is an Army veteran with a passion for alternative energy. Ed Padinske is a retired Navy change-agent who distills craft whiskey entirely from cover crops. Haley and Laura and Anna are young mamas raising the most important parts of this entire world.

And the latest additions: Takota Coen and Rob & Michelle Avis are the next generation of permaculture engineering geniuses, and their friends Chris & Jen Magwood run a sustainable building school.

This is my tribe.

All of these people are earnest, authentic, normal people who are doing AMAZING things in their areas of expertise. What they have in common with each other and me is that they don’t buy-in to the way we do life right now. They want a better world. They eagerly contribute their talents to bring others into health, happiness, knowledge, equality, and fun.

It’s slowly dawning on me that what I bring to this movement is not individual expertise, but the ability to unite these ideas in vision and collaboration. During the Global Permaculture Summit today, Takota explained that he thinks we are in the third wave of agriculture, and I think this can be said of every other system in the modern world.

Agriculture was once energy-intensive, then it became machine- intensive, and now it’s moving to design-intensive.

Takota, Coen Farm

I think what’s caused us to evolve into the way we currently live is the stove-piped nature of farming, building, and care-taking. Women stayed home, men went off to work, labor got linked to hours in front of an industry, and the existing systems developed within that scalable construct. To reunite people with the normal way of living – from local farming techniques and building materials, to nearby food and socially just cultures – we need to build model hubs of community, expertise, and example.

We need small farms, all over the place, that have people who know how to model and teach a better way of life. This includes creativity, conflict resolution, permaculture, cooking, adventuring, child-rearing, senior-thriving, and every other aspect of the good life. Right now, if you’re an average individual who wants to learn about any of these things, the last place you go is the local community. I think changing that. . . changes everything.

How could it not change the world?

Today when Chris Magwood said that no one person will ever be an expert on everything, he helped me see my role in this tribe. Although I will commit my life to learning more about them, I will never be the expert on farming, or permaculture, or child-rearing, or natural building. But I think what I am supposed to do is to connect all these brilliant minds together with each other; to give voice to their hope; and to help them bring their expertise to everyone else.

We desperately need to bring institutional people onto the team – insurance agents, lawyers, regulators, developers – and I think this is probably another part of my role. I think it will be largely up to me to make this amalgamation of amazingness palatable for the rank-and-file folks who are currently running toward the cliff.

I could not be more ready for this challenge.