This is something that I keep telling myself. This is what my Dad (Skip Farrow) used to say whenever we hit a milestone with this community- and over the years, we hit a lot. I've been putting off writing this post for almost a year. It has simply been too difficult to write since my dad passed away last June. Nevertheless, this is hopefully going to be a happy post in celebration of the life of a man who loved surveying, enjoyed helping surveyors accomplish their needs in the field and loved life. However, some of the details maybe hard to swallow.
Skip Farrow in 1976 with note to my Mom, :I Love You
A year ago, I wrote "Dedicated to the Memory of Skip Farrow" at the top of this website and that is where it will forever stay. This community is undoubtedly the most powerful thing that my father and I ever shared and it is for this reason, I'd like to tell you a few things you may not know about Skip Farrow. All of my life has been an art project and this is 100% due to the way that my father taught me to deal with challenges. May 24th would have been his 63rd birthday and i cannot even express to you how much I will miss him. I have been thinking about how to tell this short story and I hope you will enjoy learning just how much all of you meant to my dad. But first, I need to tell you about what we were doing together this time last year.
Happy Birthday Dad!
On this day in 2015, Dad and I were working hard together on making International Surveyors Week 2015 the most amazing recognition of professional land surveyors ever on record. We had designated certain days of the week to be times of celebration in the surveying industry for all of the different countries of the world. The grand finale would of course be Survey Earth in a Day 4D. In fact, GPS World Magazine featured SEIAD 4D on the cover on this exact day last year (GPS WORLD FEATURING SURVEY EARTH IN A DAY 4D). I had already been working for close to a year on a brand new platform that we were planning to migrate the community to right after June 21st. Everything was in place. I had just one thing to do- give a presentation to give at the United Nations for World Oceans Day on June 8th and we would begin working around the clock to make International Surveyors Week 2015 the best it could possibly be, bringing public awareness worldwide to the importance of Professional Land Surveyors to society. Here it sits, frozen in time. This was the last thing we ever worked on together.
With thousands of land surveyors RSVPd for Survey Earth in a Day, 2015 was looking to become the showcase of all of our hard work since 2007. 4D would be the final layer needed to fulfill the original goals for Survey Earth in a Day. And then it happened.
On June 8th 2015 while delivering my presentation to the UNWTO, my phone was ringing but was on silent. It was my dad's girlfriend trying to reach me. My dad had passed away. He had undergone 4 hip replacement surgeries since 1987 and the last one had weakened his heart so much, he just passed in his sleep while taking a nap. His last voicemail to me was him asking if I had a chance to approve new members and something to the effect of "Man, this sure is exciting. Pretty soon we'll have 9000 members and we'll fly together to Africa (or somewhere) to meet some of our buddies face to face." That was the last time i ever heard his voice and most likely the last phone call he ever made. As most of you know by now, we officially crossed the 9000 milestone 2 weeks ago. Sad that he isn't around to take that trip with me. Nevertheless, that trip will be made and hopefully many more like it before it is all said and done. A living encyclopedia of social support for professional land surveyors such as this one will only die when surveyors let it die. Last year on Survey Earth in a Day, I spent most of the day in tears. I must have felt a lot like my father did in 2007 when he looked around and saw his business that he had built from the ground up, from the back of a Ford truck, disappearing right before his very eyes.
In 2007, my dad was in a terrible bind. When the construction industry was taking a hit, so were the surveyors and as such, so was his business. Word on the street was that land surveying was going to be replaced by GIS. This really upset my father. He had buddies that had been surveying since the 60s who could no longer find work. They couldn't afford new equipment and at times expressed that it was close to impossible to get their old equipment working so they could earn a dollar. Many surveyors reading this right now know exactly what I am talking about. Despite the challenges and the fact that many told me that it was possible to build a community for surveyors due to the opinion that surveyors did not see the need to communicate across borders, I began building it anyway. I have explained what I decided to do next in various other places so I won't rehash those ideas here. In short, I started building this community in order for my dad to continue serving the needs of his buddies, help land surveyors find jobs and fix their equipment and ultimately become better surveyors. It was that simple.
Although I have managed to keep this network alive for close to a year by myself, the enthusiasm that my Dad brought to the direction of this community will be for the history books. Everyone else who helped in the early days has gone on to get better jobs and have less time to contribute as of late. I will not lie to you, It has been incredibly difficult to immerse myself in this community in the past year. Other surveying site owners have used this time to simply strip many of the best aspects of this community and repurposed them as their own for making money. Those of you who have donated to help keep this community alive are true heros and you know who you are. $300 a month can be really difficult to come by as a graduate student. In that same light, I am incredibly grateful to those who have helped me with moderation and admin duties while I finish my phd, attempt to keep it afloat financially and while putting yet the final final touches on the new and improved community. To be honest, it may be hard for me to really get back into it until we move to the new platform. There are just too many memories attached to this old clunky virtual environment.
You may have noticed that I changed my name here on the Network to Jaybird, which is what my dad called me all of my life. When he was born 2 months premature in 1953, everyone started calling him Skip instead of Alan because he skipped two months. He was an Alan Bradley and I was named Justin Bradley and so Jaybird is what he called me. Most surveyors that I know in real life also call me Jaybird. I need change in the most honest ways imaginable these days without him.
What My Dad Would Have Wanted...Bright Lights
If dad were still here, he'd be at home blasting the Marcus King Band and working on the needs of surveyors who needed his help. He would be excited for all of the positive changes which are happening in the surveying industry. He would want us to migrate to the new platform and he would want for us to have Survey Earth in a Day. This is exactly what we are going to do.
We have decided to hold one last Survey Earth in a Day Event and because the Solstice occurs during a week day this year, perhaps we'll be able to have more participants than ever before. If you think you may have 5 minutes at Noon on June 21st, please RSVP for #SEIAD5 and set up your GPS instrument on behalf of your profession.
Related Posts on Survey Earth in a Day
For More on the Creation of Land Surveyors United:
This Content Originally Published by a land surveyor to Land Surveyors United Network