I spent this past week in a five-day intensive grad course, Leading Through Collaboration. Three eight-hour and two twelve-hour days of lectures, projects, networking, and interviewing. With four hundred pages’ worth of reading due before class even began, I was terrified.

You know what, though? This turned out to be the best class of the entire program thus far. I met students from other Masters programs, including Public Administration and Education. I got to know a few of my fellow MBA classmates. I even made a few friends — you know, the people you’ll consider hanging out with once class is over.

The class itself was phenomenal. The point was to observe how for-profits, non-profits, and the governmental sector can interact in partnerships to achieve greater goods for society. We took a day to travel around Vermont and meet innovators in the upcoming smart grid technology, which will change our habits in electricity consumption. We met with leaders in the renewable energy industries, discussed single payer health care with doctors and insurance companies, and listened to a lecture by Dr. John Todd, an ecological design genius and one of Jake’s heroes (see here and here). I researched various non-profits and alliances within my beloved farm-to-plate initiative and saw it unfold in the community. I was thrilled. This felt like “it,” like where I was supposed to be, what I was supposed to be doing.

I was informed by a classmate (and new friend!) that there are plenty of opportunities in the Burlington area to intern for local towns and get involved in community-wide projects. And guess what? I’m actually considering this. I may stick around. I may try to get involved in local governments and non-profits.

This region is incredible with how its leaders come together to pursue progressive ideas and turn them into day-to-day reality. It’s on a scale that I could never imagine in Los Angeles. Shit actually gets DONE.

So, I’m jazzed. And now I have a certificate in Collaborative Studies, which I know is really just an ego-stroking but I still hugged that piece of paper out of sheer excitement. The opportunities seem endless and I actually have direction.

This morning I finally got my lazy ass out to the organic farm. Playing with tomato vines gave me a new appreciation for the fruit. The smell is unreal — I now know that what I’ve tried in the past are hardly “real” tomatoes. Real tomatoes are refreshing, juicy, flavorful. They’re grown down the street or in your backyard, not thousands of miles away. My fingers were caked in black dirt, green residue, and yellow pollen after just a few hours. I even met a couple of hornworms (do not want). The girls I worked with were a fantastic bunch as well: patient, helpful, and simply a lot of fun to be around. I think I’ll try to return as often as my schedule will permit — at least once more this week, if not twice, and again when I return to Hanover in a few weeks.

I also got a patty pan squash. I’m guessing it will go well in a stir fry or pasta, but feel free to pass along suggestions. Today was my first encounter with one, so I’m a bit perplexed by its uses.