One of my favorite post-concert jobs is transcribing the press conference. People think that it is kind of strange. It is a long, somewhat tedious project. But, I love it because I get to hear the whole thing from start to finish with out worrying about dashing out to help set up the donation booths or check on a late arriving volunteer – like I do the day of the show.
For those of you that have never seen a Farm Aid press conference at the show or on the FarmYard webcast, take it from me; it is one of the highlights of the concert. (Remember Farm Aid FarmYard members can hear it in the FarmYard area of our website!) Hearing straight from the artists about their commitment to family farmers and Farm Aid often sends shivers through me. Their passion and support keeps me going for months afterwards. Just this afternoon, I came to the John’s quotes from Camden and I stopped in my tracks. Sometimes a quote resonates so strongly with what is on my mind or in my “to do list” that I just have to savor what it means to work for Willie, Neil, John and Dave.
Seriously, though, this is incredibly meaningful:
John Mellencamp: “You see the ghost towns along the highway now and you see how our communities have changed. I guess it is all up to us. What kind of world do you want to live in? How do you really see your self, really? Not who we pretend to be but who are we really? When we take a hard look at ourselves, we probably are not who we want to be or we are not where we should be and we are not raising our children the way that we were raised ourselves. So for me, Farm Aid and all these things that everyone is talking about all boils down to one thing. If you want a better world, it starts with you.”
This is a challenge. Take a look at who you are and what is around you and you make the call; is it everything you want? Or rather, are you actively working towards improving yourself and your surroundings?
For me, it changes from day to day and honestly I think I have to ask the question every day. Even in the grocery store I weigh my options. I make good choices—most of the time. I drive to work – that could use some improvement. But lately, I have been challenging myself to think about a better world through the lenses of relationships. What would it mean to genuinely engage with every person that you meet, eat with, buy from, work with, commute with, live with or fight with? What does it mean to participate in community, instead of just living there? I want to live in a world where people feel free to engage, look you in the eye and say, “can I give you a hand with that?”
Food brings people together and breaks the ice and paves the way for this kind of connection. Food systems rebuild communities. When you buy local, or meet a new farmer, listen to a story about your food, you are participating in a movement that runs deeper than nutrients and economics. You are engaging in the kind of world that you can take a deep look at and feel hopeful and proud. Not a bad proposition.
Thanks John, I appreciate your challenge. Anyone else want to join me?