Yesterday marked the end of my 30-day abstinence from social media. Simultaneously, I had drastically curbed my consumption of cable news and texting. I say "the end" but it's day 31 now and I have not gone back to mindlessly logging in to Twitter for the simple reason that I don't want to. I also called my sons--on the telephone--to invite them to Easter dinner, because I wanted to hear their voices, not read a typed response. This experiment began immediately after I read Cal Newport's book, Digital Minimalism, Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Newport is not some flaky self-help guru, he's a computer science professor, so I found his perspective particularly compelling. I read the entire work on a flight from Seattle to Houston and there was a section that gave voice to the essence of what we're trying to do on the farm. We are building a 4,400 square foot structure that includes a commercial kitchen for preparing the food we grow and for classes and team-building events, a spacious workshop, and a large room upstairs for community gatherings. The living quarters for this structure are a small part of the design, so essentially, it's a one-bedroom house with a very large play area. Terrible for resale. Except that that isn't the goal; it's about creating an environment for genuine human interaction, real communication instead of the false promise of connection through Facebook "Friends" and "Likes." In Newport's chapter "Reclaim Leisure," he offers three lessons for a more satisfying life: "Prioritize demanding activity over passive consumption," "Use skills to produce valuable things in the physical world," "Seek activities that require real-world, structured social interactions." If I had to write a mission statement for this Agrihood, I could not do better than that.
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