In Praise of Uncommon Vision

I’m never sure whther to consider myself a part of the movement or not, but I spend a lot of time with people in the local food / sustainable agriculture field. A frequent theme is the need for a “common vision” for a new food system, or  a new California Agriculture. I enjoy my work with the Ag Futures Alliance and the Roots of Change Fund, and admire the dedication and passion shown by many that I have met in these arenas. But it is frequently stated that we must have a common vision of the future, and that creativity and innovation will be neccesary for success.

But if innovation and creativity are the solution to the problems of our food system, then is a common vision a meaningful goal? Has genuine innovation ever emerged from within a broadly held common vision? Or has it been the fringe view (the Uncommon Vision) that has been the origin of innovation?


Galileo, DaVinci, Edison, and Einstein. These were not men of common vision. Mozart, Coltrane, and Davis were not mere spokesmen for the mainstream. Picasso did not paint what was apparent to everyone.


A vision, once ossified into policy begets bureaucracy. Will bureaucracy yield the results we seek? A movement is afoot to bring the California Department of Food and Agriculture into the visioning process, and join the local food movement with state farm policy. I must confess to feeling conflicted about this. I am pleased that CDFA is recognizing these issues, but fear state involvement will hamper efforts for change.


Ultimately I’m fine with a “common vision”, so long as it does not preclude the Uncommon Visions that will be the catalysts for true success.

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