…it was tense.
VALOR as I have come to know it is over.
True. There is one more seminar and graduation coming up in July yet, so the VALOR Fellowship for the members of the Inaugural Class is not really over per se. But, VALOR as twelve passengers in a van commenting on “attempted murder” or an incident at the Steak & Shake all while being subjected to U-turn after U-turn (after U-turn again, apparently a required skill for graduate assistants to posses), that is all done. That is Past.
“Hector. You know, the name Hector?”
“We’ve had the opportunity to visit several wine…….neries.”
“Do you need to be alone with those blue cheese grits?”
“…Lee County, where Virginia begins.”
“I swear that wall was yellow last time. Not blue.”
“And this would indicate death?”
“How do you know when to irrigate your crops?”
“When it’s dry.”
Random snippets of conversations and exchanges during our journey, reproduced here for you without the benefit of context.
Essentially, while not an expressed objective or quantifiable outcome, the VALOR program is about networking, and operating more effectively in the social network. Resisting my natural tendency of getting out in the weeds to far with a subject, Networking Theory and Social Network Analysis talk (among other things) of strong ties and weak ties amongst members of a social network. The weak ties are what make the network “smaller” or “more connected” or shorten the length of the path linking the members. Think “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” The so-called weak ties are the enablers of information flow between diverse groups. Strong ties, on the other hand, offer some stability to the network, as those tied strongly tend to be more committed to maintaining the link, share information more readily and completely and provide a base of trust. Rather like the glycerol molecule’s role holding together fatty acids into a triglyceride that … nevermind… here I am getting into the tall weeds again…
Anyway…suffice it to say that, over these past 20 months, along with the many weak ties to those we have interacted with, strong ties have been created among the Fellows. Fellows of diverse enough experience, backgrounds and beliefs that there should only exist a weak tie, or no tie at all. The seemingly random quotes above (and many others) are snapshots of the humorous moments that have arisen during these last 20 months that remind me of those strong ties. That is Present…
So what happens now? Will the members of the Inaugural Class be able to be the bridge between the disparate views prevalent in agriculture and serve to “shrink” the network topography? How will those network ties look 5 years hence, and what effect will they have had on the Industry or individuals? Sounds like a subject for a Doctoral Thesis, which I’m decidedly not pursuing, so I’ll leave those questions for those who may be…That is Future
Is it tense?
Nah, not really. Because sometimes when the past, present and future walk into a bar, someone selects Journey’s “Don’t stop believin'” on the jukebox (are they still called that?) and you are treated to an object lesson in the Diffusion of Innovation and the “Courageous Follower” as the whole bar ends up singing along…. But that is the subject of another blog post which I may or may not get to before I lose posting privileges…
“But I ain’t got no car ‘larm!”