Of the Higgs boson and lavender farms
8/7/12 / Karla Raines
I celebrated my 2nd annual birthday stay-cation with a trip to Palisade, Colorado. The draw? Their annual Lavender Festival and a day-long bus tour to five lavender growers. While I learned about the different species of lavender and what it takes to grow lavender successfully on the semi-arid Western Slope, I learned much more about a group of enterprising small farmers and their common commitment to collaborate and grow – literally. These values-based enterprises seek more sustainable business models while each pursues a unique strategy. They are bound by a common passion for farming and a commitment to the overall sustainability of their community.
Simultaneously, I found myself intrigued by the Higgs boson. Then again, who wasn’t? While the science is certainly intriguing, I wanted to learn more about what fueled their discovery process. Thousands of physicists, some of them working for almost 50 years, came together in search of a common discovery. These physicists worked across national boundaries, languages and 24 time zones. And these weren’t small teams but very large collectives. An article in the Denver Post noted that 2 teams of 3,000 scientists each pursued this discovery independently to allow confirmation of the results.
What can we learn from the Palisade’s lavender growers and the Higgs boson physicists? These collaboratives share a:
- Common quest to discover and learn
- Belief in experimentation – trial and error – to produce results. They also have a stomach for calculated risk and realize that failure is part of the process
- Joint pleasure in the individual and collective results. I witnessed heartfelt pride in creating something from scratch in the fields near the Grand Mesa
- Realization that long-term success necessitates innovation and an investment in technology
Each represents a collaboratory in action. These centers without walls seek to advance individual efforts through collective learning and discovery. They share, they enhance each others’s knowledge, support each other during fallow periods and celebrate successful harvests.