In the sixteen years that I have been actively involved in agriculture, I have had the pleasure of meeting many passionate people.  While I greatly admire the ardent devotion displayed by farmers,  at times I find myself wishing that a prevailing  sense of teamwork were intermixed with that passion.  I believe with all of my heart that the sustainability of agriculture is dependent on farmers working together to share the diverse stories of how we grow food.  As I look at my own daughters, their unique strengths and weaknesses, and their struggle to find common ground; I am reminded of the hundreds of thousands of farmers who work hard each day to provide for our nation, yet are unable to achieve a core thread of unity as they reach out to share their individual stories of food production.

My oldest daughter has read Gone With the Wind three times and has the first page of A Tale of Two Cities memorized.  She took the ACT as a 7th grader and qualified for the National Duke TIP program.  She loves history and geography and can likely rattle off the capitol of any country in the world.

The Intellectual

Yet, when I take her to the feed yard and ask her to chain the gate, she gets a lost look on her face.  That same look appears as I request that she move a group of cattle out of the home pen or to tell me which animal does not look like he feels well.  It resurfaces again as I show her a gate latch that is broken and ask her how she would fix it.

My oldest daughter is a gifted intellectual.  Her verbal skills are nothing short of incredible, and she will no doubt become a great debater and philosopher.  However, she is greatly challenged by practical problem solving skills.

The Problem Solver

My middle daughter is quite different from her sister.  She loves patterns and puzzles, and is a gifted cowgirl.  She has an innate understanding of animals, and a wonderful ability to solve problems fluidly even while under pressure.

She has little interest in memorizing world geography or debating passages from books, but she is your “go to” girl when you are sorting cattle and need someone to calmly and efficiently work the gate for cattle to travel into different pens.

Intellectual + Problem Solver = A Good Team!

Just like any other two individuals, my daughters are unique and have natural strengths and weaknesses.  As I look around my community, I see the same eclectic picture.  I view this very positively because the diversity of talents makes for a very strong culture of people.

Isn't this what it is all about?

The third tier of sustainability is cultural in nature, and some define it as social diligence.  Looking at the words separately, social implies togetherness and diligence implies hard work.

Perhaps this means that the successful achievement of sustainability requires both a team effort and hard work at the individual level?

Recognizing the beauty in uniqueness and diversity is a challenge that we face as individuals and as a nation.  Realizing that no one is perfect, and also that everyone has something different to offer is sometimes difficult.  I believe thatlistening to understand all of the while recognizing that together we are stronger plays an important role in the discussion of sustainability on a cultural level.  Our individual experiences determine our perception and our opinions.

Developing underlying feelings of respect and trust for others creates both a teamwork mentality and the motivation to use our individual talents for the betterment of society.

I love to watch my two oldest girls work together: the intellectual and thepractical problem solver.  One views the world as a set of words and thoughts to memorize and debate—the other as a set of pictures to put together like pieces of a puzzle.  Their minds are so different and, as a result, they make such a powerful team when they work together.

The Great Standoff...

As beautiful as it is to watch them work together, you can likely imagine what happens when they do not respect each other’s differences and struggle to work together as a team.  Perhaps you can picture the scenario clearly because you have been in a situation where your perception of the world is vastly different than someone with whom you interact?

Imagine a world where teamwork and individual dedication to greatness come together. 

That is my picture of cultural sustainability.

What do you think?