Dear future colleague, I’ve found my people, and I can’t wait to tell you about them.
In my journey to figuring out my professional and creative path and where on, surprisingly some of the most helpful signs have been the negative ones; those moments that make me realise where I don’t want to be.
I’ve realized that what’s most important to me, and what it ultimately comes down to are the people you are surrounded by, and the company’s intrinsic culture that fosters those talented folks.
Needless to say, I’ve found it.
Or rather, they found me. And at the perfect time, as the annual Josephmark Spring Retreat happened to fall on my first week as a Junior Designer, creating a rare and unique opportunity to meet and get to know my new team, which has doubled in size since the start of the year.
To say I had deep first-hand exposure to the culture and relationships within Josephmark would be the understatement of the century. What would usually have been a daunting venture — to go off-grid for three days with 50+ soon-to-be colleagues but as-of-now strangers — could not have been a more welcoming, warm, and enlightening time. Although admittedly there was some resemblance to this:
But it also looked like this:
Upon arriving at the beautiful Falls Farm — a highlight in itself — and getting settled into our luxurious camping setup, we were divided into teams and undertook a two-hour Survivor-style challenge, which had us running, searching, swimming, frisbee-throwing and even snapping photos with the farm’s resident bull, Romeo. While the adrenaline rush was real, inherent in the task were the soft skills and profound moments of connection: team bonding, problem-solving, collaborative thinking, and a great introduction into what teamwork and relationships within Josephmark look and feel like.
Over the next few days, and throughout all the activities spanning rainforest walking to healing sound baths, engaging guest speakers to dance lessons in thunderous rain, tree-planting to pot-painting, there were a few clear overarching themes.
Although this community is filled with a range of people from diverse backgrounds, clear shared values emerged. One of the aspects that connects this community is an appreciation and display of kindness toward one another and their innovation, hard work, profound achievements, and for being themselves.
On a more outward-facing level, this community shares a deep awareness and drive to create and be surrounded with meaningful and purposeful work, while still enjoying the challenges and facing the obstacles along the way. It became so clear to me even in those first few days, that to its core, the JM and Falls Farm culture is built on genuine kindness, respect, curiosity and inclusivity.
Beyond the incredible people who comprise the community, the highlight and take-away for me personally, was the opportunity to gain a greater depth of understanding of the Gubbi Gubbi Land on which Falls Farm exists, as well as greater South-East Queensland. We were lucky enough to have Kerry and the Gubbi Gubbi dancers from Triballink share with us a night of thought-provoking, inspiring conversation and storytelling that called for meaningful reflection. I looked to the beautiful dancers, then to a crowd of awe-inspired individuals, and back again, and it was a truly beautiful and enlightening moment.
When exposed to a vast range of activities and perspectives, the ensuing conversations presented many ideas to ponder and discuss. It was in these times that I truly felt at home, in a workplace culture that seeks to truly inspire their people. The retreat and all the days since then created the opportunity for a meeting of many great minds that sparked interesting and flowing conversations and invited many points of view, stories, and experiences to the table.
Speaking of the table…
Each meal was incredibly thoughtful, fresh, and delicious; many were prepared by Amy and Ajuna, produce came directly from the Farm, and every bite highlighted the importance of connection to the food you are eating, and the nourishing and replenishing effect of eating fresh. Hearing Amy of Intentional Grazing speak of the edible art they had created, the produce and crops’ lifecycles, their textural qualities, and the way it is intended to make you feel, spoke volumes about the passion behind the community. Even more so, it created this sense of connection to the food that is an increasingly important conversation to have. JM is actually at the forefront of this conversation in its own right with the recent establishment of their new AgTech venture studio, aimed at bringing new regenerative technologies and businesses to life.
As well as gaining a greater understanding of the cultural history and Indigenous connection to the land and the native produce, we also learned of the geographic history, agricultural values and regenerative aims underpinning the farm’s ideology.
Our gardening day began with an introduction from Christine, who gave us a deeper understanding of the methodology of the farm, and how much could be learned from observing the property and its surrounding environment. Christine also explained a bit more about the makings of regenerative agriculture, which is a body of practices that help to keep carbon stored in the ground. By pulling the carbon down and burying it in the soil, the soil health is supported and aims to improve the resources it uses rather than destroying or depleting them — and is a growing key part of the solution to climate change.
Driven by passion and knowledge, the teams worked together to prepare the land and plant 500 trees to offset a month’s work of carbon emissions.
We selected over 30 different species of pioneer, canopy, understory and riparian natives to regenerate the area at the head of the farm’s largest dam. It was a beautiful sight to see the teams working collaboratively in unison, working hard to transform the land from soil into an abundance of new life.
On my way home, I reflected on the experience: on my new teammates and the warmth and kindness that every single person had shown, the numerous hilarious interactions, all of the special conversations and stories shared, and new friends I had made. It is these meaningful connections to people, as well as the connection to land and to country, that create an incredible foundation for anyone, let alone a working culture, to thrive.
And I got this all within… three days?
As I settle into my fourth working week, and I can see how it plays into the everyday, where communication and interpersonal relationships are key, especially when working remotely. This connection and collaboration is at the heart of a thriving and successful working culture. The level of autonomy requires a delicate balance of freedom and responsibility, however it highlights a workplace that trusts you. It’s amazing to see such a fast-paced environment where all thoughts and ideas are welcomed, and to be a cog not in a system, but in a wheel of change.
I noticed on the retreat that everybody speaks of one another with such praise, and this has definitely translated into the everyday. The team is constantly working towards something far bigger than the individual, however constant praise and acknowledgment is announced of hard work and victories both large and small.
Both engrained in the company culture and injected throughout every project is genuinely progressive thinking, diversity of perspective, and treating others and the world with kindness.
I am so thrilled and proud to be a part of the JM team, and it’s clear, there are so many exciting things to come.