There are many people–activists, businesspeople, politicians, thinkers–that have come with really great ideas over the millenia. The trick is getting them into action. A really great idea without an action plan is like a classic bottle of wine that goes undrunk. When it comes to creating a new paradigm for our collective future–whether it be food, energy, education, or something else–you always need to start with a vision. Unleash the potential by ignoring the realities. Think big.
But once those thoughts are on the table and a cohesive vision begin to come together, you need to start thinking about a plan for making it happen. In the end this will require compromise. But at the formative stages, just like the vision, you are allowed to think big. In fact, you are encouraged. Again, do not let likely realities intrude on your vision. Truly great things have only come from people that think big.
Take organic agriculture for example. Thirty years ago, as I was beginning my career, organic agriculture was something you read about in the pages of Mother Earth News. Nobody took it really seriously–except the folks that practiced it–and even into the early 90s it was marginalized as something largely lacking commercial potential. But those early pioneers forged ahead and today organic foods have been the fastest growing sector of our food economy. [The downside, of course, is that organic foods have been co-opted by global food giants diluting both standards and the food supply itself.] And as that vision has been co-opted, people have begun to ask themselves (and think out loud) about what is next.
Today, there are those that are asking what is beyond organic. What’s out there that will trump organic either in terms of what is grown, how it is grown, where or by whom. And there are several areas you’d be very keen to keep an eye out for: biodynamics, permaculture, urban farming, vertical farms. Each of these areas is already being practiced by people all over the world, albeit in a relatively small way. And so how to make them a greater part of our global culture becomes the question–because in the end, our culture, or global survival depends on a new paradigm. In order to create enough inertia, we should not start by asking the question: can they be profitable or are they realistic. But rather by asking the question: where do we want to go? Where do we want to be in 50 or 100 years?
But don’t wait, because the moment will be lost. And when the moment is lost, then so is the dream–or at least it is eroded. Think big, let someone else deal with pondering over reality. Your vision must come to roost before it can take on a life of its own.
Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting over lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe