Final Reflection- #10

Change is defined as making or becoming something different over a period of time. In September the goal to create change felt out of reach, and it still might be (but WE have made progress). Although, I have seen the impact community has on farmers, while understanding the challenges they face, and created a call for more community support.

Change is something I have also achieved on a more personal level when it comes to new learning I searched for. Leading me to commit to What’s the Story, understanding somethings would come easy, while others would simply appear from discovery.  During WtS I have used Self-Direction, Responsible & Involved Citizenship, Informed & Integrative Thinker, Clear & Effective Communication to drive my work forward.

Self-Direction is something that I’m constantly seeking and wanting to find more of. Since this style of learning has worked well for me. As an organized motivated person that is curious in learning outside of the classroom setting. I can finally say that I have done that in three separate situations over the course of the year (One being WtS and two being at CVU). Without the help of peers and teachers providing feedback none of this would have been possible or even a thought. While I’m someone that tends to disregard feedback, I’ve slowly realized that I don’t always know best or the required is actually much less than what I envisioned. I’m sad to see this type of learning end, but I hope to find more opportunities like this in the future. Allowing me to sit in the driver’s seat and control my learning and education. While answering the questions I want to learn more about as well as posed by others.

Responsible & Involved Citizenship was a hard concept in the beginning as 30 miles stood between my teammate and I. But teamwork quickly became a reality after the necessity for progress was found. Before WtS began I experienced multiple teams that had fallen apart mostly because I was the only one that cared or I did all of the work. But that didn’t come up when Mary and I began wondering what the future for Vermont farming looks like? and from there we reached out to dozens of farmers to learn more about the challenges they face. To gain a better understanding of what the real issue is within the Vermont farming industry. After that, our idea and topic snowballed into what role does the community play in creating this future?

I became more of an Informed & Integrative Thinker when we struggled to connect some of the perspectives together to form one cohesive piece. After we received a ton of email responses, we re-evaluated over and over. Finally settling on a list of questions that interviews we asked each person with the hope of getting similar responses. Lucky all five of them shared very similar issues and solutions. Which was helpful as well as challenging when drawing conclusions. But we would look back at what we wanted to achieve in order to decide what to include.

When it comes to Clear & Effective Communication, we wanted to make sure that the content is specific to farming but can be understood by those that have never farmed. As the purpose of creation is to inform community members of the challenges farmers are facing and how they can better support them. A big piece of creating the final product was listening to the farmers and understanding what they struggle with. Then being able to transform the information to create a compelling piece that maintained their story with a clear purpose.

Over the course of this year, I found myself wanting to find more, learn more, and see more. During the past nine months, I was able to make that a reality not because I was asked, but because I choose to. Knowing there are things you have to want, things you have to feel, and things you want to understand. I found all of those, and some I found some more than others all across Vermont, in places we didn’t expect.

The want was found when we reached out to 60 farms in all around Vermont that specialize in vegetables to coffee and figs to cranberries. Most people thought this was too ambitious, but I thought it was all apart of the process to narrow down the focus. We needed to not only hear from one type of farm but to hear for multiple sectors to prove the problem.

The need to feel when the time is right to interrupt and when to stay silent. Was challenging but necessary to move the conversations forward. The best example of this is when Mary and I were interviewing Jon Rooney and Pete James. We asked them “Did you choose to farm? or did it choose you?” Pete simply responded with “I choose it… I got done high school when to college, came back. I should have probably gone and tried something else but didn’t.” I quickly fired back with “Do you regret not trying something else?” Pete shook his head and responded with  “no…no I don’t.”

The want to understand came from sitting across the table from the storytellers letting us in on there their story. As they became vulnerable to help us grow. Especially after the pressure of the camera began to fade and body language changed. Some of the best moments of this project came from uncut conversations. As every single person let us in as they choose to sit down with us, as we were the ones that wanted to learn from them.

A young adult trying to find my way, my voice in an ocean full of noise. Reaching for every single possibility that comes my way. I have been set out on the path knowing change is still the goal, and I am now a product.

Meredith Gove

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