I just returned from a very exhausting but very fulfilling, blessed week. I started off the week in Nashville hanging out with people I aspire to be like and finished of the week with a best friend’s wedding! Life does not get much more awesome than that!
I was in Nashville to attend the AgVocacy 2.0 conference put on by the Agchat Foundation. The general purpose of the foundation and conference was to help the attendees communicate our farming, ranching or forestry story more effectively through social media. A continual theme and conversation topic was how to do we go beyond the choir. All the attendees do an amazing job interacting with each other, in fact I know I left with a couple more best friends. But how do we truly breach our comfort zone get to the audience that we don’t have a lot in common with?
My friend Katie Pinke (Blog, Twitter) was a presenter on Basic Blogging and she absolutely rocks at going beyond the choir. Well she just plain rocks in general too! After her presentation she rewarded people with North Dakota honey for asking questions and then told us to blog about the honey. I could easily write about all the crops in Oregon that require bees for pollination and hence there are many crop/flavors/varieties of honey in Oregon, but I thought I would take the honey to a deeper meaning.
I believe Ben Franklin once said, “Tart words make no friends; a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.” If we want to effectively reach our targeted audience we must make friends or acquaintances and then the conversation will come easier.
I by no means am an expert at this, however lately I have been thinking about scenarios in my head and how I would address a subject if it came up. I also knew I would most likely have a few engaging conversation opportunities come up at the end of the week since my friend was getting married in Portlandia. (Watch this clip if you have not seen it, very accurate portrayal.)
While I had a few great conversations about farming, ag, natural resources and social media at the end of the week one moment stuck out in particular.
While I was getting my hair done Friday morning the hairdresser and I through normal conversations started talking about life. We talked about jobs and that I worked in agriculture; she thought that was neat. She told me was reading up on the wolf controversy in NE Oregon and she understood both sides and thought there could be a solution in the middle. I didn’t say much, she seemed to be open-minded. I ask her why she moved from the East Coast to Portland and she explains it’s because they fell in love with how progressive it is. I bite my tongue because well that could be a can of worms. She needed a pen to write something down so I grab one out of my purse. It’s a Monsanto pen. I strategically hand it to her. She comes back 5 mins later and asks if I work for Monsanto in a kind of fearful expression. I say, “No but I know people who do and I toured their facility in St. Louis last year.” She says, “That just kind of scares me all the weird stuff they do that’s not natural.” I say, “Oh I think it’s neat. They are just helping plants along to where they would get to eventually. It’s just basic genetics and breeding.” She says, “Oh, ok interesting.” End of conversation.
While I have no idea if I changed her mind I can at least hope that I unlocked something in her that makes her think differently on GMOs now. Maybe that’s the first step to going beyond the choir by planting simple seeds of truth.