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


It’s All About Relationship

Greetings, Friends –

This morning I reread MLK’s I Have a Dream speech and was reflecting on what has changed from 1963 to the present 2018. I was feeling sad that the dream is still one to which we aspire and have a great deal of work to do in order to realize. And then I reminded myself of Aleut Elder Larry Merculieff’s wisdom and watched It’s All About Relationship to redirect my thoughts. I highly encourage you to watch his six minute piece before reading on.

What are you choosing to focus on?
Are you choosing to focus on what you’re trying to move away from? … Or are you choosing to focus on what you’re trying to move towards? No matter how well-intentioned I am, if I am focused on what I’m trying to move away from, I’m compounding the negative energy by participating in it in a negative way – I’m adding to that destruction. – Larry Merculieff

My most recent employment was coordinating a wellness coalition in Homer, AK. It’s pretty cool to get paid to do what you enjoy doing –  thinking and learning about well-being, working at the community level to improve systems for everyone’s benefit. Soon after starting this job, I gave birth to Olivine and HOLY COW! Got my very own 24-hour experiment in well-being to figure out ‘off-the-job’ at home. This juxtaposition of investigating community-level wellness while simultaneously living my crash course in individual+family-level wellness created the perfect segue to farming in Illinois.

How so, you might ask? Well, long story long… while I value the role of community-level efforts (and still have a hard time turning systems-level thinking off in my brain), I realized that it can also provide a lovely distraction to the first order of business – taking care of your self. (Cue the flight attendants so they can remind us to put our own oxygen mask on before assisting with other’s). It’s a lot easier to try and fix other peoples’ problems than your own, right?! It doesn’t help that we are bombarded with media that constantly reminds us of the problems in the world and states of being from which we are trying to move away.

Being in the parent role gave me a fresh new mirror that reflected quite a few things that I didn’t like. As Larry eloquently articulates, You can’t create anything on the outside until you’ve created it on the inside first. Shucks. I could not ignore the realization that I needed to get to work on my self. And Wow! What headway we could make if we all knew how to take care of our selves – to reactivate our inherent intelligence, as Larry puts it, tune in to our emotions and reconnect with our spirits!

So, here I am. With my incredibly supportive husband (see! he’s even willing to sport some pipe-cleaner heart glasses!) And our two kiddos. And two farm cats. And my parents down the road.

Walnut Love

Nothing like a nut to show you that beauty abounds when you adjust your radio frequency

Conducting an experiment in self and family-care and focusing on the things that I want to move towards. It’s helpful to start paying attention to the things that are beautiful instead of the things that drive me crazy… as I am frequently reminded how much beauty there is.

Thanks to Dr. Becky Bailey and Conscious Discipline, I have a prop to remind myself to see the best in others and to see the best in my self (heart glasses). To see through the eyes of spirit. This is my dream! And I believe would enable us to realize MLK’s dream, too!

This post topic was truly inspired by reading MLK’s speech this morning and had not made the draft list of blog topics. In true Megan fashion – it’s not unlike me to show my cards. Everywhere you go, there you are! Steve will be posting soon on the process/philosophy of renovating an old building – so if spirit and beauty talk doesn’t grab you, then perhaps dealing with raccoon poop will. Just kidding… it is so much more than raccoon poop. Hope you’ll join us!


Celebration of Life

Greetings, Friends –

This is our very first blog post and serves as our plunge into the public forum with this announcement: The Murphy-Collins team is giving birth to two new on-farm businesses!

These businesses have been in subconscious gestation for… years. And have come into conscious gestation a few months ago. Steve is renovating the old machine shed into an art studio / wood shop and I’m starting my farming venture with flowers. One of my goals is to share our process with others – regardless of how pretty it is (like this unfinished website going live) – and I thought it would be neat to mark this new journey as we both turn the page into 2018 and begin a new century. (I also happened to get our IL business authorization in the mail today, so it is officially official)

Baby Walter

Walter in 1918… what a cutie.

One hundred years ago today – January 6th, 1918 – my grandfather, Walter White, was born in the Illinois farmhouse that he would live in for the remainder of his 94 years. My mother was his youngest of four children and built her home within a quarter mile of this farmhouse. As the middle child of three girls, I was given the gift of growing up down the road from my grandparents and their farm.

Seven years ago I awoke in my Homer, Alaska bed and wondered, What will happen to the family farm? It was on this morning that the seed of returning to the farm was planted.

Last December, my husband and I moved with our two children from Alaska back to the family farmhouse. We weren’t sure we were moving at that point… Alaska is a hard place to leave. And diving into the family farm mix has lots of interesting layers (not talkin’ hens… yet). Still, I have felt called to this place with desires for fostering connection to my self, my family,  and to the land. There is so much to say!!! Blog security, I suppose, as it is my goal to finish this before 9:30pm so I can greet my son’s 5:30am wake up call with sleepy grace.

I cannot count the number of times that my grandfather told me to keep a journal. You will appreciate having your experiences to look back on and learn from, he would say. So, this blog is also a nod to his record-keeping affection and desire to share history with others. He also always told me to keep your nose clean. Did anyone else’s grandparent say this? Anyone?

We are at an interesting time as far as connection to the land, to our selves, to our families, and to our neighbors goes. My friend, MPhillips – superstar farm manager at Chewonki in Maine – just shared this fantastic slogan that was observed on a woman’s hat while riding a train down to DC for the women’s march: MAKE AMERICA GRACIOUS AGAIN.

Oh, that’s so good.

I’m excited about this new journey – this new century – and am so grateful for the opportunities that have been planted and tended before me, enabling me to so directly grow a relationship to the land. There is much to be learned! I hope you’ll join in the celebration!

W&V White

Happy Birthday, Grandad!