Network Mantras: Show Up, Contribute, Repeat

October 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Reporting live from the third annual Vermont Farm to Plate (F2P) Network convening, I am relishing this opportunity to work with and watch a successful network move into its third year of existence. There is much more to share about the F2P journey, which I hope to do in a follow-up post to this one, but for now, I wanted to highlight a couple of themes that continue to resonate throughout the convening and contribute to the growth and success of this network.

  • Show up, keep showing up.  The Steering Committee does not run the network.  People who are closest to the ground animate this structure.  And they are showing up in greater numbers each year as space continues to be made, invitations continue to be offered, and value demonstrated.
  • Lead with generosity.  This has been a refrain from the very first convening.  As Ellen Kahler of Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund has stated a number of times, the more you give the more you get and the richer this network will be.  The richness is evident in the fact that the vast number of those surveyed say they are benefitting from engaging with colleagues in different parts of the network.
  • Stay humble and grounded. One of my favorite lines from last year’s convening, came from Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross who definitely leads by example – “Don’t get caught up with being uber goobers.” The idea is that people need to roll up their sleeves and contribute, add value.  One of my favorite network principles – contribution comes before credential.

In the spirit of this last mantra, I offer this poem that I plan on sharing with the network convening this morning:



By Naomi Shihab Nye


The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,

which knew it would inherit the earth

before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds

watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek. 

The idea you carry close to your bosom

is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,

more famous than the dress shoe,

which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it

and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men

who smile while crossing streets,

sticky children in grocery lines,

famous as the one who smiled back. 

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,

or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,

but because it never forgot what it could do.

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