“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” -Simon Sinek, Together is Better
Vince and I have long considered our Chadds Peak Farm a place for BIG Ideas. We launched the Little Barn of BIG Ideas to inspire, engage, and uplift the human spirit, which we feel is essential today. During my race for the U.S. Congress, I got to listen to individuals from so many different paths. Right now, people are feeling more anxious, exhausted, isolated, overworked, and underutilized. We wanted to create a space where we can come together as neighbors and brainstorm about the big ideas in our community and how we can use our talents, build resources, and make a positive impact in areas where we are passionate. It is our belief that we are not a divided nation…we are diverse, and that is going to be the key to changing the current climate of our country and our world.
We believe the issues of the world will be solved by small groups of people coming together to create the changes we seek. Every one of us has a purpose–we refer to that as your genius. The Pioneer Circles are open to anyone looking to find their genius, and the dialogues are free-flowing conversations that will hopefully inspire the participants on how they can bring that forward to make a better world. We include other speakers to help guide the discussion around a particular theme each time. As each participant discovers what it is they want to achieve, we use our networks to try to connect participants to the resources and people who can help make it happen…thus the circle with the arrow…our goal is to launch your genius!
While participants aren’t required to pay a fee to attend the Pioneer Circles, you can contribute a small donation to help cover the costs for the events. We want to build community and let everyone see that there’s more that unites us than divides us. We are working on getting sponsors so that people don’t have a participation fee get in the way of being a part of the dialogue. We welcome anyone who would like to help in this!
The sense of service and commitment to the community is not new to me. I grew up in Michigan, the youngest girl out of 12 children, and loved watching the political process and following the presidential debates and conventions with my dad. He really instilled a love of service to country in me. As a little girl, I dreamed I would grow up and become the first female President and have always had my hand in advocacy and activism. At Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I studied political science, public policy, and women’s studies. Marriage and motherhood detoured my political ambitions, but in 2017, I decided to run for Congress when I noticed that there were no women in Congress from Pennsylvania. When you grow up with eight brothers, you know what it means to not get to the table…it means that you get nothing. The 7th District was one of the most gerrymandered districts in the country, and we spent over a year going through five unique counties listening to the needs of the people.
Despite a lot of money and energy spent on the year-long campaign, I did not succeed because last-minute redistricting in the state eliminated my district. It was an expensive and discouraging game of musical chairs, and my chair disappeared. We came away exhausted from what we experienced, yet I was still aware that I needed to do something. I knew I’d never run for office again because the process wastes so much money, time, and human talent. There had to be a better way to be a trumpet for what’s good in the world and help solve the issues we face.
The barn talks are not political and not religious, and that’s by design. This is about sharing and asking one another what we’d like to do and how we can make a positive impact in our communities. We look to the self-evident truths that bring us together, which I call the Civil Graces, a book I am writing and will publish later this year. From all we witnessed, we know more than ever that it is up to “We the People” to make our communities what we hope them to be.
For Vince, gatherings at the farm are familiar because he bought the property at auction with his family in 2008 and has been making space for celebrations from the beginning. He created and hosted the first Brandywine in White, a local summertime pop-up dinner party in the backfield that contributes to local causes and land preservation. We first met at Brandywine in White in 2015 but only said a quick hello to one another because Vince was rushing around setting up for the event. Chadds Peak Farm became our field of dreams.
Vince and I believe in the magic of things coming together when the timing is right. The symbolism of the two crisscrossing arrows on the crest that we designed for Chadds Peak Farm is related to our “match made in Heaven.” We both believe that our dads were up in Heaven, playing Cupid for us.
On Christmas in 2015, I found myself alone in the evening. My kids had spent Christmas Eve with me but had left to go to their father’s house. My dad had died just two days before, and I was so overcome with grief at the time. I looked up and asked him, “Where are all the good guys like you?” Just then, my phone pinged with a message from Vince. After the Brandywine in White event, we became Facebook friends because we had so many mutual acquaintances. Still, we really didn’t know one another because we never spoke after that. I was surprised that he would be so thoughtful to reach out. Vince noticed that not only had my dad passed away, and it was Christmas, but in two days, it was my birthday, so he couldn’t imagine what I must be feeling. He took the courage to reach out and send a consolation note.
Earlier that same day, Vince had gone to his dad’s grave to leave a Christmas ornament because it was his first Christmas without him. Vince shared that he said, “Dad, I’m not coming up here alone next year. You have to help me out.” He swears it was his dad that gave him the courage to send the note. When I had to make the long drive back to Michigan for my dad’s funeral, all along the way, Vince was sending me encouraging messages. He was so supportive and warm because he knew what I was going through. It was like he was holding my hand, and I didn’t have to make that trip alone. When I returned home, we got together on New Year’s Eve and had our first date under the Twinkling Mushroom of Kennett Square. We’ve been together ever since, and Vince and I were married in 2017 out in the field where we first met. We both believe life is better when we journey together.
We are definitely multi-tasking people, and our property always has something in progress. Currently, we are busy renovating the almost 200-year-old house on the property, where we lived since 2017. We have five children (four are in college), take morning walks with PetE the cat, raise sheep and heirloom chickens, and work our day jobs. I am by profession, a real estate broker, and an author. Vince is the owner of EZFind, a firm based in Minneapolis, MN, that manages intellectual property in electronics. On the side, he is also the owner of BV Moro, LLC, a general contracting firm specializing in historic home renovations, so he is well-equipped to handle this project. Symbolically, just as we’re laying a new foundation for the house, we’re laying a new foundation for the future with these talks. We hope you will join the circle!
Photo credit: Edwin Williams Photography, LLC