Saturday, May 17, 2014

Midwestern Sojourn

The blog has fallen quiet lately, I know.

For the past week and more I've been traveling on the Great Plains.  I landed in Milwaukee last Friday and circulated down into Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and now back up into Iowa.  Tomorrow is northern Illinois.

Mostly I have been driving the back roads and talking to farmers about sustainability.  The project is for one of the major progressive lobbying groups working to change the food system.  They feel they have pretty good ways of communicating with regular people, but they haven't felt like they communicate as well as they should with farmers and farming communities.

So that's why I'm on the road being an ethnographer of agriculture.

When I manage to track down a farmer - or someone who's mixed up in farming somehow, I tell them the conversation will only take 4 or 5 minutes and occasionally it will, but more often 30 minutes later we are still there, talking about all of the themes that tangle up with agriculture - families, aspirations, compromises, money, the earth, fears, futures and presents and pasts.

Six hours on the roads and I'll have only spoken to eight or ten people, but I've filled many more pages of my notebook.

But back at work, they still need my input on other projects, so in the evenings at whatever hotel I've found - I'm editing video or completing analysis or dealing with logistics for the next research trip or trying to track down my other field workers.

All that's to say, I haven't found time to write in the blog.  I haven't forgotten my Love Note to 2014, and springtime on the plains has certainly inspired me.

But tomorrow night I need to be in Milwaukee again to meet my videographer - because he and I will spend the week talking to Wisconsinites about politics and taxes.  But maybe I'll be able to carve out some blogging time at some point . . . .