Would You Want to Work for a Big Team Farm?

Hello Big Team—

Happy June! I’m so excited to say that as of last Thursday (June 3rd), I have put every promised book in the mail. They’re still touching down today— USPS says media mail takes 5-7 days to arrive, so if you haven’t received it yet it should arrived today or tomorrow. But also, it’s the Post Office, so bear with us.

That being said, I actually still have some copies left over here in my possession, so if you need an extra signed copy or two, let me know. $18 gets you a shipped signed copy in the US. Respond to this email to order.

And keep those reviews coming! I’m so grateful for everyone who has taken the time to go to one of the many sites where you can buy the book and leaving their thoughts. It’s truly one of the most helpful things you can do to support this project. Also, it’s cracking me up how many people are giving it 4/5 stars. Is anything ever good enough for you people!?

The last bit of book news: Despite the sheer levels of exhaustion I’m working through at the moment, in order to get Book 2 out by December, I’m switching gears back into reporting mode. So I’m extending the invitation to anyone who knows of a collective or deeply collaborative farm or food business, who thinks they might know one but wants to learn more, or who has specific questions about the mechanics of Big Team work, I’d love to hear from you. Feedback from many of you helped shaped Farm (and Other F Words) and I can’t wait to craft Part II alongside this community as well.

Would You Work for a Big Team Farm?

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the next steps for this project, not just in terms of the next book, but in terms of how to take these ideas off the page and breath life into them in the real world. I’ve thought seriously about how moving around the country to host meetings where folx interested in this work could meet each other might be worthwhile, but alas, it’s still a global pandemic, and more importantly, my presence is actually not an essential ingredient for smart people with shared interests to meet.

The problem is, that was kind of my one idea. With “Book Tour” crossed off my list for now, I wasn’t sure where to go next. The best news ever is, I am not the singular font of ideas in the world. I have all of you. So I thought, if people are interested in joining, starting, transitioning their operation to, supporting, or investing in Big Team Farms, they probably have the best ideas of how they want to do it.

So I’m getting back to my roots here and made a Google Form survey that I’m going to ask y’all to partake in. Click this button:

Work for a BTF (Survey)

If folx are interested/amenable, I’d love to follow up with some who respond to talk more about their answers, and maybe even put together a few group discussions for people who are interested in exploring these ideas more. I’d love to have these be geographically focused so even if we do them virtually now, you all will be meeting people that you could go see in person too.

I’m so looking forward to hearing from all of you!

Last Word on Working for the Big Bad Companies of the World

A final thought for those working for or considering to work for the villainous corporations— sometimes, you work there, you learn their secrets, and you use that knowledge to build the thing that will defeat them.

Meet The Drivers Cooperative, cofounded by dear friend of the Big Team Alissa Orlando.

The Driver’s Cooperative is a ride-share service owned entirely by the drivers that operate it. It is, in every possible way, the Big Team Ride Share. Alissa, in her former life, worked for Uber. Despite her longtime commitment to having a positive impact in the world, she also knew two critically important things; one, it’s significantly harder to do good work in the world if you struggle every day just to pay for the basic necessities of life, and two, a good way to compete against the powerful is to train with them first.

Another piece of reader feedback I got:

“The one thing I kept thinking about while reading this is how it is entirely against the notion that “reform doesn’t work” in our policing institutions and that there aren’t just “a few bad apples” but in fact ACAB. From the lens of policing, the idea of further resourcing a truly abhorrent and unjust (and not broken, but by design) system in hopes of bettering it is futile, and I’d rather have a flow of money and people go somewhere else rather than back in. 

I know police are a “public service” not a company and I’m not actually sure where your stance is on abolishing police, but I’m wondering how this does or does not fit into your narrative of change from the inside? What is the role of divestment (from police, from fossil fuels etc.) and dismantling power systems? Do you see this as a parallel route to the same end goal? I’ve always viewed one as undermining and distracting from the other (partially influenced by the book Winners Take All). Or maybe I’m thinking too big picture when really this is just a suggestion/compass for not being miserable 40 hours a week.”

For the record, I am in favor of defunding the police, but interestingly, I’ve recently had that idea challenged a bit in The Tangle (a great newsletter that I would recommend if you’re interested in cracking your echo chamber from time to time).

I could totally believe that a person who believes in the fundamental unjustness of the US criminal justice system could enroll in a police academy and become an officer. Perhaps to understand better how the system works, as only an insider can, to work later on dismantling it. Perhaps because they needed a personal connection or because they felt having the background as a practitioner would make them a more compelling advocate later. Perhaps because they just needed a job, and it’s relatively easy to become a cop. Or maybe for a million other reasons. People are complex.

I don’t believe that pouring millions of dollars into police budgets year after year is quite the same as empathizing with a person who might become a police officer despite their belief that American policing is an unjust institution. I do think it could be possible for one person to have a localized impact, even in a fundamentally unjust space, though that does nothing to address the overall injustice of the system itself.

That, in essence, is the response I have to this critique— this kind of “I will be the change in the system” belies the fact that the vast majority of us do not have the power to change the system. In my mind, that isn’t a call to throw up our hands in defeat, but a dose of humility that reminds us that we are unlikely to be The One that makes the big change. My best guess is that we’re going to spend years and years of our lives toiling hand in hand with a lot of people, and the changes we’re going to see in our lifetimes are going to be tiny, and someone else is going to get the credit for them. The idea that “your individual choices change the world” is just a different flavor of telling consumers they have to “vote with their fork” or plastic companies saying that it’s on their customers to recycle. The reality is, each of us are negligibly small parts of a very large system. The secret to having any influence at all is first and foremost, to collaborate, collaborate, collaborate, and then to find the leverage point where your unique skillsets and voices align with a weak point in the system.

Another way to conceptualize this that helps me: think of a story you love (movie, TV show, book, video game, whatever). I’m going to go with Lord of the Rings. Yes, you’ve got your Gandalfs and your Aragons, the wise heroes who were always on the right side and rarely misstep. But in the end, the heroes of this story would have been absolutely SOL if not for the Ents, the Army of the Dead, the elves of Lothlorian, Gollum, and of course, the Eagles, among many others. None of those people/ghosts/animals were down for the cause. They were not fully bought in, or even on the same side as the heroes they went on to help. They had their own affairs, ideas, and priorities. If there had been a purity pledge that required all allies to commit that they believed Mordor should be razed to the ground, the ring would have never been destroyed. If every co-conspirator was asked to drop what they’re doing, change their hearts and minds, and join the fellowship immediately, the story would have been very short and sad. The problem is, we all like to believe we’re the hero in our own story. But you know what, somebody has to be Treebeard. Somebody has to be Gollum. Someone has to be Radagast. Their roles might be less glamorous, but they’re no less important. And real heroes don’t look down their noses at those who could further their cause.

All that to say, I guess, it’s important to remember the true potential scale of our individual contributions. If we really want to make changes at say, an organization like Monsanto (as I originally discussed), being an full-time activist who protests and calls for divestment from ag chemicals or GMOs is one way to do it. But that work will be a lot more impactful when coupled with engaged, activist employees within the organization that are asking for change, activist board members and investors who want to see change, and an informed and active media and public that pressures lawmakers to provide more oversight to seek change.

In my mind, you can be an activist from almost any position within the system. Wherever you are, you can do something to help, by moving your feet, or by moving hearts and minds.

Last F(ew) Things

  • If you would like to have me join you and your friends, family, coworkers, or nemeses for something similar, I’m still accepting requests, if you have a virtual book club, meeting, class, family reunion, rap battle, podcast, casual mutton-bustin’ competition, etc. I can say hi and talk about agriculture and maybe hawk some books. My “Invites” tray remains open. Shoot me an email (and I can pretty confidently say, if you have sent me an email recently, I think I’ve responded to them all?).

  • If you’re new to Big Team Farms and want some explanation for what the F you just read, check out The Intro Newsletter and more recent additions by visiting Big Team Farms online.

  • Do you have announcements that would be relevant to the 1,400 or so members of the Big Team? Feel free to shoot me messages about projects, resources, job posting, etc. And to everyone who’s done that already, or who has asked questions that I haven’t yet responded to, look out for those in the next couple of newsletters.

  • We recently rewatched The Hobbit movies, and hot take, I still think they’re good. And now that I’ve seen Outlander, I can tell you that Dougal is one of the dwarves, which is fun. Now we’re watching Warrior Nun. So we’ll see how that goes.

  • Don’t forget to share this email!

Stay safe out there, dear ones. Don’t forget, if you have funny gifs, thoughts, comments, stories, questions, feedback, catchy song lyrics, good podcast recommendations, or anything else to tell me, I’m right on the other end of this email.

Rock on,

Sarah