When I was growing up in rural South Dakota, my mother would talk to crowds about the dangers of soil erosion and unsustainable farming. She wasn’t a scientist, she was an actress. Actually, she was a farm wife.
Let me back up and explain. In 1984, the Land Stewardship Project of Minnesota knew that soil erosion was a problem. They wanted to get people talking about solutions. But they also knew that people are, by nature, skeptical – especially when prodded by those outside their community.
The Land Stewardship Project took an innovative approach, combining art and education to connect with rural communities across several Midwestern states. They turned to a Midwestern author and environmentalist, Nancy Paddock, to write a one-woman show addressing themes of agricultural stewardship.
And, in a brilliant choice, they found local women to perform the play – women known and trusted by their communities, women with a solid Midwestern background – women like my mother.
My mother, traveling with a representative from the Land Stewardship Project, performed for audiences in church basements, community centers, even restaurants. Following the hour-long show, the Land Stewardship representative led a community discussion reflecting on the themes of the play.
When I began working for Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks!, memories from this time in my childhood came rushing back to me. I am proud of my mother for her role in helping foster healthy dialogue surrounding land stewardship, and I am proud of the chance to continue that effort through Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks!