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Walking into a situation where you know you are most likely the outsider, the one with the differing opinion, is not easy. It is something I am not very good at. But in all honesty, these situations can often times be the most rewarding. Putting yourself out there is vulnerable. Something that is not comfortable. There is a reason it is called stepping outside your comfort zone, because it is not comfy. That comfort zone can often times hold you back. Can keep you from experiencing some pretty awesome things.

As an agriculture advocate and 4th generation California farmer, I find myself at conferences and workshops quite frequently. Most of the time, they are sponsored or put on by agriculture organizations or support businesses. I attend with the objective to learn more about my industry and ways to better our business or my leadership skills.

But what perspective is that giving us? I am learning more about my industry but through the lens of like minded people. What if we started to look at our industry through a different perspective? That would surely be a different and might teach us something or provide an alternative light to see a change.

Stepping outside your comfort zone and into an unfamiliar and quite intimating situation is not something I do all that well. But a couple weeks ago, I found myself in the most beautiful tucked away resort in the middle of San Francisco. The minute you walk into the gem of Cavallo Point you can't help but feel inspired and open to whatever comes your way. The beautiful setting and the space you are in, really does set the mood and open your hearts and minds.

I found myself  in a community of ecomodernists, conservationists, and environmentalists. But in a way that was intriguing and welcoming to me. I really didn't even know what ecomodernists was until I found myself in a room full of them. They had a pretty simple goal of building a better future for humans and non humans using modernization and technology to combat environmental changes.

This group organized by The Breakthrough Institute were scholars, researchers and true conservationists. As a farmer, I feel like I am a conservationists in ensuring I conserve the condition of the land so that we can continue to pass down the land to the future generations. Being able to keep the land in a better condition than how we were provided it from the past generations, would make our work so worth it. If we are good to the land, it will be good back to us.

Agriculture and environmentalists are not often depicted in the same circles, but when you consider we are just all loving the environment and what is best for it, just through a different perspective. The best and only way I saw to come together is through perspective.
Being open to listening to others perspectives.
Being open to truly understanding the similarities and focus on them.
Being constructive when discussing differences.
Embracing, reaching out and looking for alternative perspectives.
Perspectives are key to understanding issues and working towards solutions.
Don't have a farm labor panel, and not include farm labor employers. Don't have a farming discussion and not invite a farmer. Don't talk about technology and not include a researcher.
Just because you might think your opinions are so different, doesn't mean you won't learn from their perspective. Including all perspectives can help you enhance yours as well. What a better way to learn from others than opening up yourself.

I had the honor of sitting on a "Farming Better" panel with a Kansas cattle rancher and an Alabama row crop farmer. Perspective was different within all of us, we all farm different and operate such diversely different businesses. We may all be farmers, but even a a group of farmers have different perspectives.

If I walked into that conference closed off and unwilling to learn, I would not have had as many open and thoughtful discussions. I initially felt way over my head and out of my league, but was quickly welcomed by GREAT discussion.

I definitely didn't agree with everyone there but it felt like a safe place to ask questions and really answer some opposing views with truth and transparency.
Sure, being one of six or so farmers among 200 environmental scholars, researchers and philosophers may not sound like good odds. But I would do it again tomorrow. Just to continue to broaden my perspective and never stop learning.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

***This post was created using thoughts and opinions I gathered while attending the Breakthrough Dialogue, in which my travel and hotel were paid for in exchange for serving on a panel discussion.


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