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AgChat Conference Austin

August 23, 2014

wpid-20140820_081022.jpgWhat a week.

What. A. Week. This conference was different, in many ways. The fifth one, and the one that generated the most tears. That’s not a bad thing. Some were happy tears. Some tears of empathy. Some of relief that someone out there “gets” what we do. Some at being outcast as being different is a bad thing. Not fitting in sucks sometimes. Sometimes it’s tears of frustration. And sometimes it’s someone else who *gets* it…even when there’s a different background.

Time wise my time on the Board of Directors is over. It leaves chairing, supporting, pushing the #agchat and #foodchat Twitter chats, which has not sparked for a while in some ways. Some say not enough livestock, some say too much crops, and like any chat or forum it relies on participation. It’s limited the ways that I can participate, but has been an honor playing a small part of awesome events like Austin’s conference.

During and after there were many messages, some unintentional, that small was bad. Less serious. Less viable. Pat on the head, take our hard earned money for feed and oh did the money issue come up. Many issues came up as those in agriculture attempted to embrace all ideas, thoughts and types of agriculture, but not all plugged in to a connection. At least not yet.

wpid-20140821_082823.jpgStill, nothing good comes from division. Or not finding common ground. How do we engage if there’s not some point of common ground? How do we reach those who just eat if we can’t talk with those who do get the agriculture model? How do we discuss if we’re defending and building walls?

Opening the conference was Thom Singer with an excellent presentation about the relevance of networking. Connect. Network. Chatting with and meeting Olympic contender Katie Uhlaender was awesome too.

A panel discussion brought forth some issues not unlike we face, and in a charged room seemed division that was less than positive. That’s another blog post!  As is residual feelings from Bruce Vincent’s closing speech. (Another post!)

So many cool people and awesome information shared. So much possibility for common ground. And yet so often we miss it.

As the conference drew to a close it was a lot of mixed feelings. Continued discussion after it brings answers, clarification and more answers. This is a good thing, but not an easy thing.

Stay tuned next week for some posts generated from the conference, and plan now to attend next year if you’re in agriculture. Worth the time, worth the money. Worth the tears. Making the effort is worth it. Make the effort – start saving now!

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