How To Change Careers When You Don’t Know What You Want To Do Next

Jane Porter 08.26.15 – Published in Fast Company


Ask yourself these tough questions to get unstuck….

Feeling stuck in your career isn’t just frustrating… it can be debilitating.

But the notion that we have to choose a single career path and stick with it from beginning to end is simply a myth. Regardless of your age or experience, we all eventually hit a roadblock at some point in our lives when we need to ask ourselves: “What’s next?”

Career impasses—those moments when you know you’re not happy where you are, yet don’t quite know what to do next—aren’t just common, they’re necessary, says Timothy Butler, psychothemythrapist and senior adviser for career development at Harvard Business School. “We build these mental models of what’s important for us and what we need to do in our lives,” says Butler. “These times of impasse when we’ve hit the wall about what we want to do [require] shattering those mental models.”

Take a step back from your own angst, and it makes perfect Continue reading How To Change Careers When You Don’t Know What You Want To Do Next

Meet our UMass students at NOFA

nofaIf you are attending the summer NOFA Conference this year, please be sure to stop by the vendors tent and look for the Stockbridge School of Agriculture booth.  Our (smiling) students will be there to greet you and tell you about their experience studying Sustainable Food and Farming at UMass.

According to the NOFA Conference web page…

The Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Summer Conference is the community learning hub of the NOFA universe. We learn, we play, and we enjoy a weekend of skill building, inspiration and entertainment. It is our opportunity to get together and inspire one another during a family friendly weekend with people living the same lifestyle, holding the same vision and working respectively in many ways toward the same goals. Continue reading Meet our UMass students at NOFA

Study proves the outsized economic impact of local food purchases

The Amherst Saturday Market is a popular place to meet your neighbors and support local farm families!

Consumers often cite supporting the local economy as a reason why they purchase locally produced foods. To find out whether there is such an impact, a University of California Cooperative Extension team interviewed producers engaged in direct marketing to measure the economic impact of local food marketing in the Sacramento Region    Their key findings indicate that, for every dollar of sales, local  direct marketers are generating twice as much economic activity within the region, as compared to producers who are not involved in direct marketing.  Here are the highlights of their findings:

  • Sacramento Region direct market producers averaged $164,631 in sales per producer, ranging from $2,141 to $4,620,000.
  • Of the direct market producers’ total revenues, 44 percent were generated through direct channels.

Continue reading Study proves the outsized economic impact of local food purchases

How much should food cost?

NOTE:  in this article about food costs in the industrialized world, the author claims that to create a more fair society, we must pay more for food.  What do you think?  Add your thoughts to the comments box below.


By Colin Trudge – Published on Sustainable Food Trust – July 22, 2016

tacobellNothing illustrates the weirdness, injustice, and unpleasantness of the present economy more clearly than the misdirected attempts of government to reduce the price of food. All seem to accept that to reduce food prices is good and necessary, and that it represents ‘progress’. Certainly it is necessary to ensure that everyone can afford good food, but this does not necessarily mean that we should seek to make it cheaper.

For starters, governments (and industry and the National Farmers Union and the various scientists and other intellectuals who travel in their wake) are obsessed with “efficiency” – which, like everything else in the present world, is measured entirely in terms of money. On many farms worldwide the biggest single expenditure is on labour, so the mantra is that above all, the efficiency of labour must be increased. This is achieved by sacking people, and getting more work out of those that are left. Workers are replaced by bigger and smarter machines and by industrial chemistry. But, as the numbers of unemployed increases and they become more desperate, more and more are re-employed for less Continue reading How much should food cost?

Make Farmwork a Viable Occupation

NOTE:  when you buy food from big box stores, you are supporting an industry that exploits farm workers so that you can have cheap food.  The following letter from a food industry leader, asks for higher wages and better working conditions for farm workers.

By Fedele Bauccio – CEO at Bon Appetit Management Company – July 28, 2016

farmworkA crisis of epic proportions looms in American farming — and thus American food. A labor shortage is “all but guaranteeing that crops will rot in the field on many farms this year,” according to Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. The Farm Bureau has just released a video in which farmers criticize the government’s delays in processing H-2A applications. “We’re going to have to make a choice,” Duvall says in the video. “We either have to import our labor — workers to harvest our crops — or we’ll have to import our food.”

With respect to Mr. Duvall, as one businessman to another, yes the H-2A process needs to be fixed — including making sure it meets grower needs without sacrificing worker protections — but I think we have another choice.

Continue reading Make Farmwork a Viable Occupation

Social Justice is a Core Component of a Sustainable Food System


Leaders of Color Discuss Structural Racism and White Privilege in the Food System

What can the food movement learn from Black Lives Matter in this tumultuous moment?

Like many of you, we watched in horror as events unfolded across the country last week, and the hell and heartache has left us reeling. We’ve long reported on food justice and last year wrote about why food belongs in our discussions of race. But we know we have a lot more work to do. In that spirit, we reached out to leaders of color in the food justice community for their thoughts about how they think the “food movement” might come together on the issues of race, equity, and access. We encourage others to speak up, add your voices to this space, and to continue the conversation.

Erika Allen, Chicago and National Projects Director, Growing Power

When people say “The Good Food Movement” are they thinking about racial and economic parity? I do, which is why I see it as a Good Food Revolution. I’m not sure how you define sustainable agriculture without this being a central point of understanding. The economic scaling up and investment in urban and sustainable agriculture without the facilitation of anti-racism work on an academic level—to truly understand one’s role as a perpetuator of racism even within liberal thought and action—is a real disconnect. Undoing racism and its companions of oppression, does not magically happen, and it requires real effort. Not just talk, or a workshop, but daily vigilance, and a real cultural shift. We are at a historic juncture. We [at Growing Power] believe that growing food and justice for all goes hand-in-hand toward the realization of a truly sustainable agriculture movement domestically and globally. To achieve that, we need to integrate our understanding on a deep level. This isn’t political rhetoric, this is what we have been struggling for since abolition of slavery. We need to address racism and white privilege and supremacy in the Good Food Movement. As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to move forward Continue reading Social Justice is a Core Component of a Sustainable Food System

On Mental Models


The following is a repost of an article by Gabriel Weinberg….. we teach this stuff in our UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture class called Agricultural Systems Thinking.


Around 2003 I came across Charlie Munger’s 1995 speech, The Psychology of Human Misjudgment, which introduced me to how behavioral economics can be applied in business and investing. More profoundly, though, it opened my mind to the power of seeking out and applying mental models across a wide array of disciplines.

A mental model is just a concept you can use to help try to explain things (e.g. Hanlon’s Razor  — “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by carelessness.”). There are tens of thousands of mental models, and every discipline has their own set that you can learn through coursework, mentorship, or first-hand experience.

There is a much smaller set of concepts, however, that come up repeatedly in day-to-day decision making, problem solving, and truth seeking. As Munger says, “80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly‑wise person.”

This post is my attempt to enumerate the mental models that are repeatedly useful to me. This set is clearly biased from my own experience and surely incomplete. I hope to continue to revise it as I remember and learn more.

How-to Use This List

I find mental models are useful to try to make sense of things and to help generate ideas. To actually be useful, however, you have to apply them in the right context at the right time. And for that to happen naturally, you have to know them well and practice using them.

Therefore, here are two suggestions for using this list:

  1. For mental models you don’t know or don’t know well, you can use this list as a jumping off point to study them. I’ve provided links (mainly to Wikipedia) to start that process.
  2. When you have a particular problem in front of you, you can go down this list, and see if any of the models could possibly apply.


  • Most of the mental models on this list are here because they are useful outside of their specific discipline. For example, use of the mental model “peak oil” isn’t restricted to an energy context. Most references to “peak x” are an invocation of this model. Similarly, inflation as a concept applies outside of economics, e.g. grade inflation and expectations inflation.
  • I roughly grouped the mental models by discipline, but as noted, this grouping is not to be taken as an assertion that they only apply within that dicipline. The best ideas often arise when going cross-dicipline.
  • I realize my definition of mental model differs from some others, with mine being more broadly defined as any concept that helps explain, analyze, or navigate the world. I prefer this broader definition because it allows me to assemble a more wide-ranging list of useful concepts that may not be mental models under other definitions, but I nevertheless find on relatively equal footing in terms of usefulness in the real world.
  • The numbers next to each mental model reflect the frequency with which they come up:
    (1) — Frequently (63 models)
    (2) — Occasionally (43 models)
    (3) — Rarely, though still repeatedly (83 models)
  • If studying new models, I’d start with the lower numbers first. The quotes next to each concept are meant to be a basic definition to remind you what it is, and not a teaching tool. Follow the link to learn more.
  • I am not endorsing any of these concepts as normatively good; I’m just saying they have repeatedly helped me explain and navigate the world.
  • I wish I had learned many of these years earlier. In fact, the proximate cause for posting this was so I could more effectively answer the question I frequently get from people I work with: “what should I learn next?” If you’re trying to be generally effective, my best advice is to start with the things on this list.

Continue reading On Mental Models


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