My experience has been just the opposite of your recent statements. You said you have not seen much advancement and acceptance of women in business. Then I read an article in USA Today by Sheryl Sandberg on the front page titled “Woman Have Made No Progress at the Top”.
So maybe I’m wrong, but here’s my story and observations.
Where’s All the Men?
Let’s start at the top, our non-profit’s SFG Foundation chief executive officer is Victoria from UT,now S C , a mother of 5 and a more dedicated and believer of SFG than you could find anywhere in the world. She daily deals with many corporate executives, state and municipal politicians, college Professors, Museum and community Dept. heads and representatives in not only negotiating contracts, but payments and delivery, brainstorming all of our educational and humanitarian projects. She does all of that in addition to the day to day operation of our Foundation.
As I look around I see Belinda from Utah, who runs a family garden business and a real organizer and accomplished leader, who keeps tabs on all of our 600 SFG Certified teachers/instructors…who in themselves are a majority of women.
Then there is Sally from N C , a top notch journalist who writes our newsletters and does all of our interviews and profiles.
And who do I see right in front of me, Becky, from San Diego who posts most of our websites and takes care of my blog for preparation and execution.
Then we have Amy from CT who partners with Belinda to run our online certification courses. With their training, they are helping more people to become better teachers of our SFG system.
My recent trip to Minnesota celebrated the naming of Connie as Woman of the Year for her county. There she has organized and operated many church,school and county SFG projects. That trip also introduced me to Karen, who almost single handedly started and installed an entire school program and display garden for teaching SFG.
Then there is the sweet voice of Jenny answering the phone in our South Carolina national headquarters. She answers all your questions and makes sure all your orders goes out. Melissa from SC who does all the bookkeeping and records and Davanna from SC who organizes all our big national events. Then there is Cheri from WA who does the final compiling and distribution of our monthly newsletter. We have Pat and Karen both from UT, who run our SFG classes at BYU education week in Utah. Finally there is Holly, also from Utah who helps with the Thanksgiving Point spring classes.
But Wait- There’s More as they say on those irritating TV infomercials. We are just in the process of re- designing and redoing all of our web sites and social network presence. After many interviews, who did we select? A Woman! Charissa. From S C And there’s more but you get the picture don’t you?
We have some great men, don’t get me wrong, but the list would not be as long.
Now I ask you – are we at the SFG Foundation way ahead of the rest of the world?
I’ll tell you another interesting story, in all of my travels around the world and all of the people and organization that I’ve dealt with. When I go into a different country, in the past I made contact with and explained our gardening system and projects to the mayor of the community or head of a local organization. They would gather all of the men from that area and I would ask them as a group…how would you like to learn a new method of gardening that is simple, easy, inexpensive and beneficial to everyone including your family.
Well they would answer me with things like…I will probably need a tractor or at least a rototiller and lots of gasoline. Another would say they need a lot of land and fertilizer. Another would comment that they are going to need a lot of tools and special seeds and certainly a new truck to get around in. Others would ask how would they get paid? And of course all of them began to think of themselves as the headman, because they all wanted to know how much help they would get in the way of labor and what type of equipment would be provided.
I thought to myself, wait a minute. I didn’t come here to organize a whole country or start a business. I just wanted to teach someone how to have a small, productive Square Foot Garden. After several experiences like that, and it always seemed to be the same no matter what country I was in, I wisely decided to change my approach and to whom. So I gathered all of the ladies of the village and asked them how would you like to have better food and nutrition for your children? They all immediately started to smile and nod their heads up and down. I explained our small gardening system, how they could make compost for free, and then use it as the soil for a new type of garden right outside their back door to provide fresh, nutritious food for their children. All Free!
When I spoke to the men, they would fold their arms in front of them, hold their chin with one hand, slowly shake their head from side to side…and I could almost hear them thinking what’s in it for me? Conversely with the woman’s group, I saw continual smiles, touching the arm of the woman around them and nodding their heads up and down. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against men. They visualize themselves, as they should, as the provider and protector of the family. But a woman visualizes herself as the caretaker and nurturer of her children. She will do anything for their benefit. That’s why we need both a Father & a Mother in every family.
Well to make a long story short, we were very successful in locations where we could gather and talk to the women. Particularly when we explained that the children can be involved by helping them locate and collect free materials for the compost operation. They then saw the immediate advantage of making compost which they could sell for money but also use for their own garden box. Once we explained the addition of flowers and herbs into the vegetable garden, they immediately saw sales possibilities as well as the advantage of beautifying the garden box.
The end result for a family turned out to be a cleanup of the property and neighborhood. The children became more involved in not only the compost operation, but many soon wanted their own garden box. When all of this started to provide additional income, as well as free fresh vegetables, knowing that this would improve all of their health…the whole family had a new outlook on life.
I even like to tease the men by commenting they were very generous in their decision to allow their wives to fiddle around with this little gardening method. Now because of their decision, everything is looking up for the family. I don’t say that facetiously but in jest. But in actually, it turned out to be true.
If you’ll excuse the pun, women have labored for a long time to secure their rightful place in society and to be considered and treated as equals in business and community. There is still a long road ahead I’m sure, but they have certainly proven their value and worth to me…and I am a believer. How about you?