Seize your phone, make that connection

View From the Paddock: Make that connection


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Peter Lewis, freelance journalist and consultant.

Peter Lewis, freelance journalist and consultant.

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Our mobile phones have more computing power than Neil Armstrong had when he landed on the moon - View columnist, Peter Lewis, reckons they are the perfect tool for producers to tell their stories on.

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One of the more interesting films I’ve seen lately is Ryan Gosling’s First Man  – a very personal insight into Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 moon mission.

Nearly 50 years after, we are are still learning fresh and fascinating details about that historic event.

As I sat in that darkened theatre (it’s a film that deserves to be enjoyed on the big screen) I remembered a message I use all the time when I’m talking to farmers about storytelling. And it’s this.

There is infinitely more computing horsepower in their mobile phones these days than Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins had at their fingertips aboard the command module Columbia and the lunar module Eagle.

Quite simply, farmers have never had the platforms nor the capacity to publish and broadcast words, pictures and video around the world like they have now.

So what’s stopping them?

Queensland rural photographer and author Alice Mabin, writing in the Queensland Country Life a few weeks back, challenged farmers to have the courage to take on the hard conversations about what they do and why they do it.

“Farmers have been taking it on the chin for far too long because of the “just get on with it” characters they are,” she said.

“They don’t complain, they don’t argue, they just get on with the job. And that’s the problem.”

Indeed, fellow QCL columnist Trent Thorne noted recently that when it comes to storytelling, farmers are “always outgunned by agriculture’s adversaries – bringing a knife to a gunfight if you will.”

But that’s changing.

In the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of talking about the importance of stories and storytelling to farmers and those who live and work in regional, rural and remote parts of Queensland.

From Kingaroy to Queensland's Gulf Country, I’ve encouraged them to seize both their phones and the opportunity to explain who they are, what they do and more importantly, why they do it.

And as reluctant and shy as some of them have initially been to stick their neck out and speak up, I’m delighted to see more and more of their stories that connect the people who grow food with the people who consume it.

 – Peter Lewis, freelance journalist and consultant

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