Kentucky author Rona Roberts on her work
I am a writer and researcher based in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1983, with Steve Kay, I founded Roberts & Kay, a research and facilitation firm dedicated to advancing democratic practices in workplaces and communities. Roberts & Kay serves local, state, and national public and charitable sector clients' needs to figure things out, think things through and work things out. I focus particularly on long-term projects and qualitative studies aimed at identifying best practices for cultivating and enlarging what communities own together—our commonwealth.
My respect for group work and my fascination with groups and membership began during my childhood on a working farm in rural Kentucky, where small groups accomplished nearly every task—often with laughter and seeming ease, and sometimes with friction. Formal education, national service, civic adventures and professional work since then have deepened my interest in the potential of group work as an arena for individual, group, and societal progress, as well as personal satisfaction.
Revolutionary Meetings, a small book, distills some of what I have learned about how everyone in each meeting matters. I suggest exact language each person can use—language for members, not just leaders—to make sure every good idea gets considered and decisions come to life after meetings end.
My two books about Kentucky foodways, perhaps surprisingly, come from similar interests. Every person, including every Kentuckian, deserves excellent food. With work, we can feed ourselves, all of us, well. I want that - that's true homeland security. I write to encourage our efforts to grow, cook, preserve and compost our own food. I cheer as we turn toward resilience.
I want a square deal for the people who grow my food. I write to increase small farm income. By telling stories of the food and the farms that are our real commonwealth, I mean to encourage more Kentuckians to buy food grown near their homes.
I want to live in a state where we benefit fully from our agricultural abundance, so I am drawn to write on topics that highlight Kentucky's farms and farmers. What we cherish will flourish. I write to be part of the cherishing.
What began as a joyous side effort in 2006 now includes the long-running blog, Savoring Kentucky, and two books, Classic Kentucky Meals (Arcadia Press, 2014) and Sweet, Sweet Sorghum (Hotcakes Press/CreateSpace 2011.)
I write to show others what I have learned about the importance of being in action with colleagues, friends, neighbors, opponents and strangers to get things done. I write because democracy requires participation, engagement, doing one's part. I write to do my part so Kentuckians in 2250 can work together in lively, civil meetings and then walk into their kitchens, look around, crack a few fresh eggs, step outside for fresh greens, open a neighbor's jar of pickled beets, fire up the skillet for cornbread, and make supper from what grows in Kentucky's great soil.
Pass the homemade butter and the sorghum, please. Make sure everybody gets some.