Turn off, tune in, ...

The breeze rustling the bullrush is interrupted only by the primitive yammering of Great Horned Owls.  As I relax in the post-dusk moments and reflect on the conversations of the day, I am struck by how profoundly powerful silent contemplation can be in our noisy world.

My daughter, a friend and I are at Hampton Plantation State Park for the African American Heritage Day and a camp-out with Joe McGill, founder of The Slave Dwelling Project. Through story and song, we learn about and honor the enslaved people who called Hampton Plantation home during antebellum South Carolina.  Around a campfire, in the shadow of the grand home and kitchen house, a small number of us gather to reflect on our experiences and to participate in a candid, but informal dialogue on race relations… and later to sleep right there in the lawn.  The setting encourages us to turn off, tune in, and immerse ourselves in issues that can be uncomfortable in traditional settings or perhaps not even explored, but yet critical to our lives, especially in land conservation. This process helps us understand that “this place matters” in more ways than we had ever considered.  It’s the discipline of learning and reflection that forms the foundation of successful communications.

Often my clients will ask, “how do we get our message out? How do we get heard with so many distractions?” It’s not just a matter of tools and tactics. It’s a matter of perspective. Maybe the first question ought to be,  “How do I train myself to listen, learn, interpret, and shape our story in a noisy world?” We found the answer: turn off, tune in, and immerse.

Jennifer Howard