This week kicks off the start of South by Southwest (SXSW). A quick Google search states the following about SXSW:
Annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival held in Austin. Includes schedules and band and film lists.
So why do I, or anyone else in agriculture, care?
This year, the AgChat Foundation is sending a panel to SXSW’s Interactive Conference. This is a huge accomplishment for a fledgling organization like the AgChat Foundation. The panel consists of Jeff Fowle (blog, Twitter), Emily Zweber (blog, Twitter), Chris Chinn (blog, Twitter), and Zach Hunnicutt (Twitter) with a special guest moderator, Marla Schulman (Twitter, website). The SXSW synopsis of the panel goes as follows:
You probably don’t farm. But you do eat. How do we bridge the communication gap between the 2% of the population who are farmers, and the remaining 98% of people? Technology. The AgChat Foundation is working to end the divide between agricultural producers and the public by training farmers and advocates, developing strategic “agvocacy” campaigns, analyzing data, and funding scholarships. It’s all part of helping everyone understand the production of food, fiber, and fuel in its many faces and how technology is changing everything. The panel will consist of various leaders from the AgChat community, most of which are family farmers. Discussion will focus on the AgChat community: how it was built; its unusual diversity, including people, groups and ideologies sometimes otherwise not in agreement; how it grew beyond its basis in Twitter to other social media platforms; some typical discussion topics; and how the AgChat Foundation functions to equip farmers and ranchers with the tools to be credible online voices. Complete program details can be found at http://www.agchat.org.
Why is this so special to me? Well, it seems like just yesterday, I was scurrying to type up that synopsis paragraph. I was fortunate enough to be the primary proposer for the panel. I was entrenched in a fast-and-furious application process, then got to watch the AgChat community rally around the panel. I may not be going to SXSW, but I get the satisfaction of knowing that this week, my hard work through the application process has paid off. Agriculture wins in this scenario.
So, as our group of amazingly diverse, ridiculously talented, incredibly well-spoken representatives prepare for SXSW, I get to sit back and smile. I get to relish in the fact that I played a pivotal role in getting farmers to one of the biggest interactive communications conferences in the world. I get to breathe easy and look towards finals knowing that SXSW is finally here and finally happening. I get to feel pride that agriculture is being represented by these people I’ve come to know and appreciate through AgChat Foundation. It’s really great to see your hard work pay off.