7 Ways to Share Power

December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

As scientist Alexander Graham Bell said, “The best skill of a good leader is to bring out the leadership qualities in others. For we are all leaders. Every parent is a leader and every child can become one.” I began an internship through the university with the desire to help in the expansion of campus agriculture, to learn as much as I could about gardening in general, but particularly gardening in cold and dry Gunnison, and also to develop my leadership skills, because I knew that is what was needed to understand what it would take to make serious change. I found that gardening was something that even an average working American could do to provide, at least themselves, but also their families with food, especially if labor was shared, and values were taught rather than pressed. The most helpful information I found for building communities through gardening was in H.C. Flores’s book, Food Not Lawns. Flores is a radical; outspoken in the advocacy of using unconventional means to build a stronger community, and a healthier world. In simpler terms, Flores promotes the use of compostable bathrooms, less showers, and more dirt. More importantly, she offers extremely useful tips for beginning educational gardening projects in communities, and in somewhere as small as Gunnison, such tips can be extremely useful. Working in community gardens, it did not take long for me to understand the importance of group cohesion, meaning the willingness and ability to communicate among the people you are working with. The most helpful advice in Flores’s book was her “7 Ways to Share Power” Her steps include “talking less and listening more”, because we cannot forget that there is always the potential to learn something new. Also, “let someone else run with your ideas.” I found this one to be extremely interesting, solely through experience, because I have come to believe that if a task requires specific skills, it may not be the best method. Her third step is “share access to resources.” Then, “say no to new responsibilities.” I have found that this piece of advice is something everyone in the valley has learned, or should accept. It is unique that very few people here have just one job, and I also find this to be significant to a sustainable and healthy community, but it is also important to not be doing too much, because other areas will soon be lacking. Flores’s next tip is “let others make mistakes”, then “delegate responsibilities responsibly.” Again, living here, we are lucky enough to be able to truly know those we are working with, so it is important to understand their strengths, but also their weaknesses. Her final tip for sharing power is to “trust the people and the process.” Part of the reason why developed education on a subject is so important is because a person should have faith in what they are doing and what they are advocating. Not only should a gardener love gardening, they should also understand why gardening with and for their local communities is critical today.

-Keriann

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