In the Hidden Tribes of America test, we thought that the general spectrum of our country’s political views were well-represented, even if the categories were broad. The test also showed the percentages of people that make up these categories, from progressive activist to devoted conservative. This illustrated the highly polarized beliefs of today’s society. The extremes of the spectrum made up only a small percentage of the overall population, yet these extremes dominate much of the national discussion, with less focus on those in the middle.
Similarly, the Six Americas test examined societal views on global warming, where people ranged from alarmed to dismissive, calling for radical political action or detaching themselves from the issue altogether. This seems to represent the vast diversity of viewpoints in the United States, as well as an effort to represent the perspectives of as many people as possible. This representation of perspectives also applies to the Heterodox Academy, as well as an article by Luyet et al. (2012). They emphasize the importance of promoting collaboration and viewpoint diversity to ensure that everyone is well-represented. However, it is important to be careful in both instances to maintain a balance of power in the decision-making process. This is crucial in ensuring that all voices are listened to and taken seriously.
The “Who” of the Oregon Farm Bureau
In any organization, there will always be some members whose voices are more listened to than others. The Oregon Farm Bureau emphasizes the importance of community among farmers, allowing all members a voice in the decision making process, though at different levels. According to their website, the Oregon Farm Bureau includes voting members, supporting members, and associate members, all of whom contribute differently to the bureau. A member’s status is dependent on their farm’s gross income, with voting members maintaining the highest status. On the Oregon Farm Bureau website, there is a section that can only be viewed by members. Upon viewing the member application, we could tell that the selection process is reasonably thorough; not just anyone can be a part of the bureau.
Although these three levels don’t have equal impact on the overall expression of views within the organization, the specific roles of each group are crucial to its success. It is important, however, to consider that farm owners are not the only people involved in agriculture. As they are members of the industry who are listened to relatively often, we believe farm owners have a responsibility to incorporate the perspectives of their employees in their decision-making process.
Who Is Left Out Of The Conversation?
Farm workers and the public may be two of the most neglected groups in this partnership. These groups are stakeholders in the same issues as the farm bureau, but because they aren’t members of the organization, they have little say in the decision-making process. We only represent a small sampling of the public, so our views are unlikely to be representative of the whole. However, representing what may be the most common public view is not our goal for this partnership. We are eager to learn more about these stakeholders and their relationships with the farm bureau as we progress through this unique partnership. Based on OFB’s public stances on current issues, it’s likely that our Hidden Tribes groups would differ from many of their members’. This makes our study of engagement all the more important, because we are interested in and open to engaging with different viewpoints. From the OFB website and the presentation given to us by Barb Iverson, OFB president, it is obvious to us that OFB is also open to others’ views. There is reasoning and explanation behind what they endorse and why. This rational openness is absolutely crucial as we attempt to engage between different backgrounds and areas of expertise.
Luyet, Vincent, Rodolphe Schlaepfer, Marc B. Parlange, and Alexandre Buttler. 2012. “A Framework to Implement Stakeholder Participation in Environmental Projects.” Journal of Environmental Management 111 (November): 213–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.06.026.