Why did you decide to join the City Of Change campaign?
A core part of The Community Farm’s ethos is to bring people onto our land. The events of this year have made us realise the urgency of actively championing this value, so we decided to make an organisational commitment to bring more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to The Farm. Opportunities to gain work experience are increasingly thin on the ground and – especially in the environmental & agro-ecological sectors in the UK – are often inaccessible to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. These are also the least diverse sectors in the UK, which can sometimes feel a bit intimidating to someone looking in from the outside who doesn’t feel represented, or worse, not welcomed. We joined the City Of Change campaign because it provides paths to change that we believe are necessary and just, and we are excited to welcome someone who wants to work alongside us in our quest to grow and distribute good food, protect wildlife and grow soil, and show people the incredible benefits of nature connection.
What do you think young people may contribute to your organisation?
We all have different gifts and struggles, different contexts of being and different paths to walk, so it is almost impossible to know exactly what any individual can contribute at any given time. But people approaching adulthood are often blessed with enthusiasm, energy, and perspectives and knowledge unique to their generation – some of which we may be lacking! When given the appropriate opportunities to channel their gifts, it’s impossible that they won’t shake things up! We are as eager to listen as we are to guide, for young people will inherit the soil that we tend to now, just as we inherited it from those who came before us. We all have a voice in its care.
What do you think companies may be missing by having a lack of younger voices/influence in the organisation?
When a company stops bringing in new ideas, new ways of seeing the world and new voices, they can become brittle and lose their adaptive relationship with the living fabric of society. This inability to adapt is the start of inevitable decline – they need a hefty injection of new blood! Future generations don’t suddenly come into full-formed power but actively shape society by way of their relationships within it from a very young age. Without the inclusion of a younger perspective, there is a risk of losing context and relevance and not being able to see the forest for the trees. Conversely, young people can find great value in witnessing what already works, taking those gems with them and applying them elsewhere in their lives. Just as it is sometimes appropriate to change things, it is also sometimes appropriate to conserve things: the challenge, which we all face, is identifying the time at which change should happen, and how it should happen.
What advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
It might take you some time to figure out what you want to do, and why – and that’s okay! There are no right or wrong turns in the world of work but fascinating learning opportunities, each one providing a clue which will help you make better and more suitable choices in future. Ask yourself: what is important to me? What do I want from life? And what am I willing to give to the world? And then keep asking those questions, because as you learn more about yourself, the world, and your place in it, the answers will probably change! And that’s OK too. Remember that it’s always better to do than to dream – the distance between reality and fantasy is often huge, so learn through experience, not through hearsay and assumption. Remember also that it’s never too late to start something new, but also recognise that certain paths require lengthy periods of disciplined focus and hard work. Finally, the concept of a career is changing, too. Our grandparents may have worked for the same company in the same town for their entire lives; now, it’s considered unremarkable to change roles every couple of years, to have a side hustle (or 3), and maybe even to work online with people whom you’ve never met in the flesh. There are many ways forward – have faith in the fact that your ancestors managed to succeed in finding their path, and that you have too, up until this very point! Never give up. Just know that sometimes life comes in waves: hard times follow good times, and vice versa. Ride the wave. Be patient. But keep in mind that the only way to create change in life is through action, and that action, ultimately, is your responsibility and your power.