Sound Bites & Zoning Approval

Greetings, Friends –

As I sit at this computer in my Homer, Alaska home, I’m streaming KBBI 890am and listening to the live performance of Steve, Atz Kilcher, & John Cottingham. A delightful treat and lovely example of Homer-living gifts. Steve just sold his adult-sized drum kit last week – this drum kit and many other material belongings that make sense for our Alaska existence are now out of our possession. However, the adorable kid-sized drum kit that Steve found for $5 a couple years ago at the local thrift store made the list for transport to Illinois. And now I’m smiling as I envision and hear Steve sitting behind this miniature drum kit on the airwaves. Ah, Homer.

One of my first ‘real’ jobs in Homer was working as a program coordinator for the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve. My most treasured experience was coordinating a Nancy Baron Science Communication workshop the day before a phenomenal Kachemak Bay Science Conference. It was a dream come true: rock star of science communication, Nancy Baron, in the flesh in Homer supporting our local community; scientists changing their presentations after the workshop to deliver more engaging and enjoyable presentations the very next day; a science conference that incorporated the interdependence of human wellness with environmental science and health. Yep, this is what Megan Murphy dreams were made of in 2012 (and not too far from 2018’s)! I got to revisit my delicious memories and had a hindsight’s-2020-laugh about this a couple days ago as I was pulling down books from our storage, sorting the keep-worthy from the pass-on-able. I nostalgically opened Nancy’s book, “Escape from the Ivory Tower: A guide to making your science matter,” and thought, “Sheesh, do I need to review THIS again!” Yes, the book is directed towards scientists. And even scientists who are flower farmers need to brush up on their sound bites and communicating with the media from time to time…

Our centennial family farm is agriculturally-zoned so Steve and I need home-based business permits to enable customers to come to the farm. A few weeks ago, I walked into the Piatt County Courthouse just as the zoning board was reading aloud the description of our [Backyard Beauty] special-use permit application. I had not even considered the possibility of media coverage at this event – this was just the 1pm commitment of the day before I could get back to planting perennials at the farm. After the meeting (that was solely focused on my application), a local news reporter approached me with questions about our developing businesses and goals. I repeated the things I had just shared with the zoning board and never considered the implications of having this information written up in the paper until I read the article the following week. Yikes! The business advice adage is definitely not “over promise and under deliver”. For the purposes of the zoning application, we needed to share a spectrum of possibilities that this permit would cover. However, I have a whole lotta ideas that I’m not yet ready to share with the public. I first need to start tending the seeds I’m planting and then see what grows. This was an excellent reminder that I need to work on my “message box” (Nancy Baron) and more clearly communicate our present goals. I immediately wrote a letter to the editor in an attempt to clarify the confusing introduction I’d provided in our very first media coverage [Both article and letter to editor shown below]. Oi!

Well – good news. First – our special-use permit was approved! An integral piece for fulfilling our present business model and ideas! Second – I’ve been reconnected with an amazing communication tool-kit to support future media forays. Thank you, Nancy Baron! Your book and my memories of March 2012 will make the 4,500 mile journey to Illinois. Third – While I practice my own communication, I’m fortunate to have a dear friend and neighbor who happens to be an amazing writer. Mary Lucille Hays wrote a lovely Letter from Birdland column depicting one of our afternoons together in the garden: Sharing a love of planting. What gifts!

I reread the note that Nancy wrote on the inside cover of my Escape from the Ivory Tower. The last sentence reads,And I look forward to following how you change the world.” Cultivating Joy through Flowers, Art, & Self-Care sounds pretty good to me!

Cheers to our daily practice of communication – it comes in all forms!

P.S. The featured image of this blog post is of Nancy Baron and me on the eve of her workshop in 2012. We stand in front of her last slide with the Mary Oliver quote, “What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?” 

Flower Farm gets zoning approval article

Screen shot 2018-04-17 at 9.31.18 PM

Letter to the Editor


Leave a Reply