Dealing with the Elements
The ancient Greeks believed nature was composed of four elements: earth, water, air and fire. Modern scientists commonly define elements as substances that are the primary ingredients in matter, ones that cannot be broken down further into simpler substances. We can take shelter from elements like rain or snow; we can be “in our element” when we feel most comfortable or at home; and we can be stereotyped as a radical element if we push boundaries a little too far from the status quo.
I pick up my weekly box of Angelic Organics vegetables on Wednesdays. The Farm is simultaneously one of the most practical and mystical place I’ve ever been, where many elements and elemental processes of the very best kind unfold throughout the four seasons. As I joyfully open and sift through my weekly gift box of brightly colored vegetables, I find myself contemplating the elements of space, time and fate that converged to add so much flavor to my life.
Speaking of convergence, the Learning Center board and staff came together over 18+ hours this spring to create a strategic plan that will guide us and our work for the next 3-5 years. We painstakingly broke down our history, our current workload and responsibilities, our limitations, and our dreams and visions for this place into individual elements that could be examined one by one, moved, shifted, highlighted, and combined with others into a beautiful molecule or discarded before it can do damage. The process was intense, and the real work to step fully into our new plan is only just beginning.
The most prominent takeaway for me as Executive Director was that we can attract diverse, talented elements together into one amazing place and still struggle to accomplish our mission until strong, efficient support systems and pathways for internal and external communication are put into place. The correct ratio of elements must be present within the correct environment to ensure the correct molecules and compounds are created. We can’t be “in our element” nor can we be the radical elements our food system and society needs until this is accomplished.
“Don’t dismiss the elements. Water soothes and heals. Air refreshes and revives. Earth grounds and holds. Fire is a burning reminder of our will and creative power. Swallow their spells. There’s a certain comfort in knowing that you belong to them all.” ~Victoria Erickson
Jackie de Batista