I started a new job at No More Empty Pots. It was first real job in 4 years and like any change, I was skeptical. My concern was how I could continue to do the things I loved when I had to go to work. Since one of my new dear neighbors, Jess Pate, had introduced to Nancy Williams, the No More Empty Pots CEO and co-founder, I had been intrigued by the concept of a Food Hub in a food desert. So off to Florence I went last January 8, to open a new chapter in my career.
My title was Project Lead and I was tasked with developing a curriculum to teach young adults about IoT and Local Food Systems. I had never heard about IoT, so I first had to learn about the Internet of Things. The concept of the diverse connections you can create with technology was interesting but I what I really learned about at No More Empty Pots was how to “Live my best life on my own terms”.
Early on in my conversations with Nancy, I felt a difference. It wasn’t just that this was a non-profit setting, it was Nancy. She had a way of bringing out the best in anyone with little ease. She had complete confidence in my ability to develop this curriculum, even though I was dubious. After my first time delivering the content to high school juniors I felt I hadn’t done well because they hadn’t listened or engaged with anything. Nancy told me, “They were listening and watching everything you did. It’s just not cool to listen when you’re a teenager.” Then as the deliveries continued through the summer, I dealt with tougher situations and more distant teens, she told me, “As long as you show up everyday, you are teaching them something about life”.
Throughout my first year in this role, Nancy always had time to listen to me and remembered what I’d said. She told me that she had complete confidence in my abilities, and while that may seem trite…she believed it and after a while I started to too! One of the most powerful statements she made was her telling me, “This is not the last job you were at.” I hadn’t shared any background on my last position, yet she intuited from my behavior that it had ended acrimoniously.
One of my favorite memories of Nancy was from a meeting when we were developing the concept for our inclusive urban farm. The executive director who has the land had stated that we have 2-3 acres to use however we want to teach people how to grow and enjoy food. The nutritionist shared that she and her team were prepared to devise the programming. Nancy looked at me and smiled and said, “Whatever you ask me for, I’ll say yes.”