I was asked to help chair an amazing student conference on food systems and sustainability this weekend, and it ended up being a total pleasure. There is something that seems so revolutionary about people my age farming — and doing so with such an up-front commitment to the environment, health, anti-poverty work, and sustainable business.

Dr. Satoshi Ikeda spoke on one of the panels and he’s one of those people where when he speaks, you find yourself accidentally nodding along with every word and grinning in the middle of a lecture. He’s just got a ton of hope and vision, and he was talking about how there’s a need for people to take on roles as “connectors” in this new movement for sustainable food systems. I wish I had a word-for-word copy of what he said, but to do some heavy/creative paraphrasing, it was basically something like this:

“A long time ago, we use to have villages and arranged marriages and there would be a nosy old woman who knew everything about everyone, everything about you. She couldn’t care less about your privacy at all. But she was very good, she brought couples together, she knew how to match and connect different people with so much skill. We don’t have this anymore. We don’t have people like her. Instead we have online dating. When I say we need people to act as connectors, to refer people between projects and organizations, I don’t want us to do that with the computer. I don’t want to make the online dating of community connections. I want us to all become that old lady, I try to be her.”

I want to be the nosy old woman too.