new video
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Motivating Motivational People  RSS feed

 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 1196
126
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Perhaps some have noticed, and perhaps some have not that someone I am privileged to have gotten to know a bit batter lately has been absent on here. Thelka McDaniels has been absent:

Now I know there are many reasons for this, and honestly it is none of my business what another chooses to engage in, or what they elect to abstain from; but it grieves my heart that there is an absence on here. I always found those posts to be uplifting, encouraging of the truth, challenging to those who seem negative but without being negative in return. Through those posts I was learning to be more effective and a better online person myself. Now I will say I WAS NEVER a troll, causing hate and discontent on purpose anywhere I went; I think people on here know that, however I could word things better at times, and was learning by the carefully scripted words of another.

So my question is, how do we motivate the motivators and convince them what they say has impact?

I think I cause the opposite on here because people see that since I am a bigger farm, and so I am irrelevant to them. I wish I could convey that it is just not so, it only means I have acres that are languishing and not fully productive, where as theirs are. I also wish that I could be some motivational person myself that shows it can be done, that full-time farming is possible, that a 380 year old farm can change with the times and improve from studies, research, observation and improved methods.

With  9th generation farm I am under a lot of pressure to ensure its viability and longevity, so I am afraid to go out on a limb and invest a lot in unproven methods of production because the scale is so large, but the bigger the risk, the bigger the rewards as well. How do I personally convince others with smaller farms that their micro-successes could help improve my farm...methods I am currently reluctant to try?

I think maybe the best way is to just be even more transparent, to list individually the issues that I have and see if somehow the problem cannot be part of the solution. Its scary, airing what is essentially my farm's dirty laundry, showing that bigger is not always better; the same problems on a bigger scale. In someways I am encouraged to do that as I feel refreshed that many of you know the truth...I do not have it all together!

In the interest of humility, I put this on this forum: Meaningless Drivel because so some it just may be, and to others it may be of importance.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
180
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Travis Johnson wrote:

So my question is, how do we motivate the motivators and convince them what they say has impact?


I personally feel motivated when people post their successes and their failures.  I'm motivated to try and experiment when I see other people trying and experimenting.  I'm more willing to take a risk with a new method when I see others taking risks with new methods.  Trying the same thing with other people to share our trials, failures, and successes is exciting and motivating, such as how Tracy and I plan to try Gabe Brown's 30 Vegetables polyculture during the next growing season.  Maybe this is an experiment you'd like to try, Travis?  Gabe Brown did the trial on 20 or 30 acres - Tracy and I are going to try it on a few hundred square feet.

 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6028
Location: Left Coast Canada
750
books chicken tiny house
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For me, I am inspired by people trying something new.  That's what I like to read about.  When someone saw something neat, or maybe they saw something that everyone said was too hard or impossible, and they tried it anyway.  That's what inspires me. 


About the big vs small farm thing.  I think large farms are important.  I also think it's important to know that most large farms have too much invested in the current style of agriculture to risk a sudden change to other methods that may or may not work for them.  But what they can do is make small changes if those changes are seen to be worth the effort.  Try something on a small scale, then if it works, scale it up slowly over several years. My personal feelings are that a family or small group of people can manage a few hundred acres quite well, so long as they take the time to observe the land under their guidance. 

As I move towards Gerthood, I find I interact less and less with people.   I'm really not a people person, so in many ways, I don't mind.  However, I also feel I'm failing my social responsibility.  I'm doing some pretty nifty things here, regionally adapting plants and creating landraces, growing squash (a high water crop) with zero irrigation in a drought.  Stuff like that.  As I discover more and more things, I think I would like to work with a large farmer to develop these ideas on a larger scale. 

The summer before last, our city water supply was running out.  It was hot, it was dry, it had been 8 months since the last rain and we very nearly went on a full outdoor water usage ban.  Several cities did do that and it was havoc.  The construction industry couldn't make cement, the farmers couldn't water their crops, that sort of thing.  During this time, I drove by several organic CSA farms.  They all had their sprinklers going at full force, every time I went by.  I thought to myself, if the water is shut off, then most of these people will lose their farms.  Here I am, growing a huge bumper crop of squash on 5 minutes of drip irrigation every second day because I choose the right variety of squash to grow and I grew it in the right conditions.  This recent summer, they needed zero irrigation. 

I thought to myself, how can we get larger farms doing stuff like this?

I thought, wouldn't it be great if one farmer tried one new thing each year?

Maybe it could work like this:
- I try something and get a general idea down on how it would work.  Basically, I do the initial research for the farmer - since it's something I'm doing anyway.
- The farmer dedicates 100 square feet to trial this crop
- if it succeeds, the farmer dedicates a quarter acre to this crop the next year
- if that works, then the area expands.
- maybe each year the farmer shares 5% of the harvest of crops I helped develop with me or maybe such and such a percent of the income in recognition of my continuing contributions to their farm.  It becomes for me a residue income/food stream.

What if he tried three new things each year.  300 square feet dedicated to experimentation.  What if he dedicated a quarter acre to 13 new things each year.  What if two of them worked really well so he gave each of those things a quarter acre of their own to see if they would work on a larger scale.

We will have more drought again and the next time it may be that these farms have no outdoor water usage.  All these farms, organic and otherwise, that depend on irrigation will have zero harvest.  But maybe this intrepid farmer who dedicated an acre of his land to working with a Gert like me, will harvest squash.  Maybe that squash will be 10% of their potential total harvest in a good year - so not worth much at all. (so for example, they are growing all their regular crops, but 10% of the crops are this new squash based on my research - but due to drought, all the other crops fail).

But maybe, that 10% will earn him (or her) more money than a good harvest in a good year.

Here's how.
During peak season, local, organic squash sells for about 25 cents a pound.  If you can harvest squash early (which I did last year, the year with zero irrigation, I harvested squash TWO MONTHS earlier than other farmers), then the price for local, organic squash is about $4 to $6 a pound.  On years when we have crop failures, local produce will at almost tripple the off season price.  So, one could conceivably get $10 a pound for local, organic squash - and people would pay it! 

Last winter, a head of cauliflower was $12 during peak season when it's usually only $4 a head.  Organic, not-local cauliflower was almost $16 a head - and people were buying it!  There was no local cauliflower but it was the time of year when the local cauliflower harvest would have happened.  But what if there had been local cauliflower?  How much could that have fetched?

But then we get back to the original problem.  I don't like interacting with most humans.  I don't know how to go about finding a large farmer to work with and how that kind of relationship would put food on my plate, or better still, money in my pocket.  I worry, as a small-time amateur researcher, I would just get taken advantage of.  Even if I could find someone interested in partnering with me, how would I know it's worth the effort?

I don't even know if it would work.  I don't even know if I'm on topic anymore.

But what I do know, is maybe sharing is a starting point.  At the very least, it will get others curious, so they try new things, which maybe they can share with us, which will inspire me... it's enlightened self interest to share what I can. 

 
Jeff Stainthorp
Posts: 54
Location: Yakima, WA
7
books chicken food preservation forest garden greening the desert trees woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Travis Johnson wrote:Its scary, airing what is essentially my farm's dirty laundry, showing that bigger is not always better; the same problems on a bigger scale. In someways I am encouraged to do that as I feel refreshed that many of you know the truth...I do not have it all together!


My response is gonna be esoteric, fair warning.

But first, I'll air my dirty laundry right along with ya if it helps. You're not alone.

It is scary throwing it all out there. People hear "farm" and they immediately get this mental image of perfectly established systems, beautiful pastures, weed free beds...but that's not the reality, almost ever. I know how nerve wracking showing people around a farm can be. I begin to see the farm through the eyes of others, and notice EVERY single thing that needs improvement, or a re-do, or that patch I neglected and looks like shit. And it can kinda suck.  But I think (hope?) we're all on this wonderful site because we know we don't know everything, and we are all striving to continuously improve. Improve our own lives, the lives of those dear to us, the health of the soil, the quality of our water and air. And for me at least, knowing that I have a community that will support me through my failures and cheer with me during triumphs is the best motivation in the world. I just hope everyone on this site knows their value to the community, because all of us are in this thing together. My brother wrote me a short poem from my perspective, after a particularly dark period in my life. I'm gonna share it, in hopes that some may find solace in the message. It certainly helped me:

"I'm paralyzed, for fear of f'kn it up.
But now I realize for the most part the story of my life is one long tale of making mistakes, of screwing things up, of learning hard lessons...and for the most part my art has been the art of working with the mistakes, the accidents, the spilt ink...
And that ain't depressing,
So much as liberating.
So today, I think I'll go f'ck life up real good."


 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6028
Location: Left Coast Canada
750
books chicken tiny house
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As for encouraging motivational people to post more stuff, I think the apple and pie system this site has make for some very powerful tools

You can buy pie then give pie to posts and people that inspire you.  This not only makes the person feel good for sharing, they also feel encouraged to share more.  What's more, it makes that thread more visible to more people.  The more pie a thread has, the more people find that thread. 

Some of us can give apples and I wonder if we are doing this enough.

Apples and pie may seem like such a small thing.  They are virtual rewards after all.  But they produce such a good feeling that it certainly makes me want to share more with the people on this site. 
 
Casie Becker
gardener
Posts: 1474
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
116
forest garden urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I sometime worry that I don't post enough about my successes and failures. Problem I have is that most of my failures I just don't think are that interesting. Of course most of the plants that I plant and don't water past the seedling stage aren't going to do well in Central Texas. Ho hum, that's not interesting, it's the successes with those conditions that I'm interested in. I probably kill eighty percent of what I plant before I get a harvest. That's okay with me, right now I'm just narrowing the field down to survivors that are worth the extra effort for bountiful harvests. Am I missing opportunities to inspire people by not posting enough about all the plants I'm killing each season? I'm actually asking question this seriously.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
180
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It makes me feel less bad to see that other people kill lots of plants, and it's not just me....so that is motivating....
 
Casie Becker
gardener
Posts: 1474
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
116
forest garden urban
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Okay, I'll start trying to make regular updates about which things have kicked the bucket most recently. 
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3478
Location: Anjou ,France
163
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How to motivate people well thanking them seems to work - we may colour it many ways but in the end that's what it is
As for sharing our mistakes yup it's good otherwise folks think we are perfect and worry about not being perfect themselves .

David
 
Regan Dixon
Posts: 133
Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think we all have potential to be motivational.  Likely a lot of us need to be encouraged to speak up (and thank you for those PMs, Travis), but feel that as we are not stellar successes, we have nothing to say.  But hearing about failures as well as successes is indeed useful, as they are not theoretical, but actual.  Failures delineate the boundaries of how far one can go in a given direction.

Permaculture principles talk about scalability--experimenting with an idea on a small scale, before doing it on a large scale.  That validates my piddling around, feeling all wishy washy and like a failure.  But, as I keep telling myself after my umpteenth failure, "Thank goodness I didn't make a big investment in that idea!"  We're in different areas, and may be the first with our exact conditions, we get to be the pioneers making all the mistakes.  We're at the bottom--those of us looking at what was done in the past, deciding that it's not sustainable, and trying to hammer out what will work in our unique circumstances.  Without a ready-made plan, and without the other elements-to-be tying back in to a more interconnected system--yet--what one has may be rather less productive than what one turned one's back on.  Adding elements that tie in, really does kick one to the next level of productivity.  An example here of increasing complexity and thereby productivity, was adding chickens, who give eggs, income, and meat, and manure in quantity--resulting in compost in quantity for the first time (a mouse could starve on my kitchen scraps) to apply to the rhubarb and other leafies, which really took off.

You want dirty laundry? 

-Eggs were a slight loss this year, due to slightly lower production, and slightly higher feed costs.  BUT I have preserved, on my answering machine, a message from an unknown egg recipient who took the time to phone and say that these were the BEST EGGS she had eaten in her life!  So, the way forward is more pasturing (which makes the eggs awesome) and a higher price per carton, which people are willing and able to pay, plus hatching out more chicks to be new layers.  (Oh, and I got all of three pullets from this years hatch, but tons of cockerels.  I can't legally sell them, but can trade some for help dealing with them.    rooster = roaster

-Goats:  one doe didn't conceive last year, so she ate without freshening or producing kids for sale.  The other doe had a big buckling and a tiny doeling, who imo was still too small to sell to someone who might end up breeding her right away.  Income from goats last year:  zero.   YET, I had someone track me down because she was in love with a goat bred here that she'd bought from someone else, and wondered if I had any of her kin for sale.  So maybe I'm doing something right with my breeding plan, even though it's painfully slow to see the result.  The way forward:  offer the doeling for sale early this year, and cross fingers for better fertility this year.  I should be eating more goat.  I should be learning to slaughter and dress goat.  I'm shoulding on myself; I'm just not ready to do that.

-Food forest:  invested in a bunch of not too expensive plants to trial on the drier, more challenged part of the old garden--got them from a drylands native plants specialist in the next town.  They all looked pretty sickly if not outright dead, last I looked.  Don't know if that's bad species choices, bad soil, too wet, too dry, blahblah.  Not knowing what the specific problem is, I'm not sure what the solution is.

-Annuals:  potatoes barely came up, then shrivelled away before harvest.  That's using the ruth stout method, and also watering in dry spells.  Veggies germinated poorly, too.  I don't know what went wrong.  Way forward:  uuh, not knowing what the problem was, I'm not sure of the solution.  Try another location, and go back to trench/hill?  Don't plant annuals at all?

-Water system:  two years ago, with help, devised that the water line should run parallel to the creek and drain back into it, for constant flow and no freezing, with the house line T-ing off of it; valve in access pit with heat tape and insulation, in order not to deal with frozen water again.  In previous winters, the line would always freeze up for a few days.  No freezing last winter.  This winter, frozen for 30 consecutive days and counting.  Solution:  melt snow for household needs, fill carboys elsewhere for animal needs.  Ways forward:  make sure outflow end is submerged in creek, and also build steps down to creek so that one can safely and successfully carry buckets of water back, without wiping out and getting soaked.  Maybe a few more things, but I won't know what else until the ice melts.
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3478
Location: Anjou ,France
163
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Regan
Why don't you start a thread about your annuals problem before it becomes an annual problem
Mine were crap this year too but I know the problem ,the weather was 5h1t cool spring very wet then suddenly hot very dry summer those that did not drown baked .

David
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 731
Location: USDA Zone 8a
48
bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As for motivating others, well I don't know what I could do other than try to encourage others to follow their dreams... Or answer their questions.  I try to check the Zero Replies every now and then.


R Ranson wrote:As for encouraging motivational people to post more stuff, I think the apple and pie system this site has make for some very powerful tools ...

Apples and pie may seem like such a small thing.  They are virtual rewards after all.  But they produce such a good feeling that it certainly makes me want to share more with the people on this site. 


I really like the apples.  I am still proud of the first one that I got!  I am trying to hand  them out ..

I'm proud of the slices of pie I received but still trying to figure them out ..


Tyler Ludens wrote:I personally feel motivated when people post their successes and their failures.


My gardening attempts this year were about 50-50..  I thought once established my Monarch Garden was beautiful. I wished I could have posted pictures. The seeds I bought at the big box store didn't come up but the seeds I bought on Ebay were about 50-50 even from the same seller.  I tried really hard to get the lavender to sprout.  I used all kinds of methods, cold stratification, soaking in a paper towel, and planting in a pot. Then DH pulled up most of the sweet alyssum so the garden looked shabby but the milkweed got more sun.

The winter garden is still iffy ...
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How do you convince someone that what they have to say has meaning? You Listen. And what motivates teachers is when their students get it.  So, you want to make people believe what they are saying has meaning and you want to motivate them to keep sharing - you listen and learn.

That doesn't mean not engaging with them, but it does mean engaging in a receptive manner.

The community here is actually exceptionally good at doing exactly that. Very rarely do we have interactions where people get shut down for sharing their perspectives.

Sometimes we have exceptions where people are less receptive than they could be.  And sometimes we get people who show up and start telling everyone how it is and how it works and they don't get quite the reception they think they should get - in both extreme cases, it's a problem with not being receptive.

Good motivators are themselves receptive.

So what do we do? We share our stories and we listen to one another and we learn.
 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 774
Location: Longbranch, WA
42
chicken goat rabbit solar tiny house wofati
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Right now I have a surplus of flags so I am giving this thread some flags.
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 1196
126
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think one of the reasons as farmers (micro-farms or big farms even) that we often fail to share our failures is that we are driven by a huge amount of hope. I think we do not make more of losses; plants or livestock, because we rather expect it, but our hope lies in future outcomes. Because of that we do not focus on the bad, but rather what could happen in the future. No other business is like this.

A case in point is Macy's. They have a retail store that is closing in Bangor and yet the company openly admits it is a very profitable business. They are closing the store (and putting 65 people out of work) because it will improve stock prices.

A farmer just does not have that option. While it is well within my power to sell off every sheep I have right now and make a few thousand dollars instantly, it would be a short term gain and a long term loss considering how many pounds of lamb would not be produced. Through careful record keeping, specific culling, and figuring everything right down to the penny...we get by, but I will tell you the truth, we have not had a truly robust lambing season. So I wait for a bumper year.

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
Posts: 561
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
65
bike dog forest garden urban
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my opinion the Permies-forum is motivating and inspiring, all over!
Reading about all things you (Permies in general) do makes me want to do more too! Listening to Paul (podcasts), f.e. when I hear him tell about his 'eco scale' and about 'Gert', makes me want to be a 'Gert' or someone with a high 'level' on the 'scale'.

Receiving apples and pies, or just getting personal answers to questions and personal reactions to my posts (f.e. with someone quoting my post) also motivates me.

What can I do to motivate others? at least doing what my 'signature' says. Do I like receiving apples? then give an apple a day to others! Do I like getting answers to my questions? then answer questions I am able to answer! quote (parts of) posts and give my personal reaction. These are ways I can motivate others, without moving from my seat (only moving my fingers, and using my brains / imagination)

The 'dirty laundry' ... I put some photos in the 'garden failures' topc. But maybe my 'dirty little secret' is: I am not at all farming! I read here about farms, acres, hectares ... and all I have here is an 8x8 meters (sorry, I am European continental) front yard in a suburb. When I say I do 'Hugelkultur' I am talking about two 'hills' of not even 1 meter long each.
But of course this isn't a secret. I have a topic on this 'project', my miniature future permaculture food forest I proudly show photos of my two tomato plants and my pumpkin I think even this small garden can be motivating and inspiring to someone.
 
Maureen Atsali
pollinator
Posts: 354
Location: Western Kenya
29
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with Inge - I find the whole of Permies to be very inspiring.  I justify the time I spend on here as "idea" harvesting.  I love to see what others are trying and others are doing, and see if there is something that can fit in my little farm.  I love bouncing ideas off like minded people, and I appreciate those who take time from their busy lives to offer answers, opinions, and share knowledge.  I have learned so much since I joined here.  And I really love when people post pictures.  Talk is cheap, show me pictures!  Much love and appreciation to all who share here, you are ALL motivational people in my book.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!