“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill
The path to realizing this dream is long and winding, with many unusual diversions.
Here is the story so far.
I first began sharing this vision publicly when the blueberry farm I stewarded with my then-parter was put up for sale. I ran an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign to buy the farm ourselves and transform it into a sustainable food forest filled with outdoor sculptures, and operated on a gift economy basis.
It was a longshot, but not trying is the surest way to fail.
As a way to get the campaign in front of a large audience, I considered an offer from a production company to do a reality show about our unusual life on the farm and my quirky tribe of creative friends. The terms of the offer were ridiculous, but I saw incredible potential in unscripted entertainment so I started to learn everything I could about the industry. Previously I’d ignored it because, well: network reality tv.
It became clear that without getting a lot of exposure the campaign to save the farm wasn’t going to succeed. Around the same time, I was working with a development producer and was getting fed up with the whole short-sighted, backwards-thinking process.
(As a designer, working within flawed systems had always been an opportunity to make positive changes. I’ve always ended up improving any system I was allowed to, especially when several groups of people with different perspectives and/or end goals are involved.
Back when I started as a self-taught designer, nobody’d heard the phrase “design thinking” and design was still seen as just a shiny surface to slap on something at the tail end of the process, rather than something that shapes everything about the process.)
Before I could regroup and do what I now know is called “pivoting” (hooray for nonstop learning!), my mother was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, and died two weeks later. Right before her funeral my complicated 9-year relationship ended badly.
The following months were intense, as I dealt with my grief, the chaotic experience of being on the farm with my ex (I’d imagined that we’d remain friends, but I was wrong) and working to find ways to stay on the path towards my long-term goals.
Losing mom was my first experience with that kind of grief and I’d lost my best friend right when I needed them most. I felt like my life had been shattered.
That kind of sorrow rips your heart wide open, and it brings a rare clarity to everything.
Mom had an amazing and impactful life. And she died unfinished, too soon. I vowed that I wouldn’t.
Mom spent a lifetime struggling with many of the same demons I struggle with, and in the end she couldn’t overcome them. I vowed that I would.
I haven’t given up on my dreams — I’ve let them grow bigger.
Weaving together everything I’ve learned from these experiences, and with the help of my amazing friends, I began picking up the pieces to rebuild my life.
I co-founded a startup to disrupt unscripted entertainment and turn it into a tool for rapid social and environmental change.
We’re going to share our own unique and compelling stories transparently; in ways that make it possible to not just achieve our goals, but to change the world.
We’re not going to create just one food forest. We’re going to build many.
We’re not going to let obstacles stop us. We’re going to turn them into advantages and use them to propel ourselves forward.
We’re not going to simply survive. We’re going to live the lives of our dreams and make it easier for more people to do the same.
This is how we got to where we are now. Let’s see how far we can go.