Published Sep 4, 2019

How We Work: From Concern to Action

By Laura Frescoln

There is a lot happening in the world of agriculture. You may have noticed that at PFI, we have a lot happening in our communications department as well! We talk a lot about effective messaging, to us, effective messaging tells a story and creates an opportunity for change.  Telling that story and creating a welcoming space to discuss, debate and ultimately adapt to agricultural issues is a high priority for us and we have grown our organization to meet those needs.

We are continuing to learn about effective messaging through our focus on Community-Based Social Marketing. Guided by the strategies outlined in in the book “Fostering Sustainable Behavior” by Doug McKenzie-Mohr, we are working to inform members and non-members regarding the current issues in farming and more importantly, the possible solutions.

pfi field day community

Presenting solutions is one of the keys to effective messaging. According to “Fostering Sustainable Behavior,” messaging that only warns of impending doom does not always lead to the changes in behavior desired. Research conducted by Richard Lazarus suggests that we respond to threats in one of two ways: problem-focused coping (positive action) or emotion-focused coping (ignore or deny). The difference-maker in how we respond? Community.

That is great news! Community is a cornerstone of PFI’s mission: “Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.” Search the word “community” on our website and spend the next few hours reading the 2,230 results!

“If we feel that, in concert with others, we can have an impact, we are likely to act. If, however, we feel little common purpose, we are likely to perceive that there is little we can do personally.” A quote from “Fostering Sustainable Behavior” by Doug McKenzie-Mohr.

For those of us who have been confronted with the idea of change (most of us), this is not surprising. If we feel alone in our efforts to impact change, there is little motivation to do so. For over 30 years at PFI, we have called on our growing community to learn, share and, when necessary, change. Change can feel risky, and having a community with a common purpose gives us hope that our individual efforts will cause a ripple effect towards a larger impact.

Wendy Johnson, long-time PFI member and current board president, highlighted the power of community during times of uncertainty in a recent blog.

“[PFI] was developed on hope and optimism and the idea that there was a better way to continue farming, be profitable and enjoy the work we do each day. As we near a similar cycle, where in some cases costs are outweighing profits, here is an opportunity to gather outside-of-the-box ideas, continue researching new and soil building ways to farm and keep farming, march upward and onward with that same hope and optimism and have that important tool in our toolbox: the community we’ve built through PFI.”

Thank you for that reminder, Wendy. And thank you to all of you in the PFI community who collectively contribute to telling a story and creating the opportunity for change.

Next time you are faced with a challenge…look to the PFI community. You may just find a solution.

pfi field day community

More from our “How We Work” blog series: