A two-century fight for the small, the local and the beautiful

Wendell Berry

Twentieth-century America witnessed the blossoming of Agrarianism as an intellectual and cultural movement. Its roots lay within the mythos of the early American Republic, which cast the self-sufficient yeoman farm family as the foundation of ordered liberty. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1785: Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most … [Read more...]

Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow and the loving community

Photo: Pen Waggener/Flickr.

What I saw now was the community imperfect and irresolute but held together by the frayed and always fraying, incomplete and yet ever-holding bonds of the various sorts of affection.  There had maybe never been anybody who had not been loved by somebody...It was a community always disappointed in itself, disappointed in its members, always trying to contain its divisions and gentle its meanness, … [Read more...]

Why the world needs Transition

new economy infographic

There are many approaches to the three main crises threatening civilization today, namely, climate change, peak oil and economic crisis. The problem is that most of them won't work. Weak and cowardly Most responses to these huge problems are too little, too late. For example, even though stimulus (spend more) and austerity (make big cuts) take opposite approaches to fixing the economy, wherever … [Read more...]

Wendell Berry: Forget about big solutions to ecological emergency

Berry and Moyers

"We don’t have a right to ask whether we’re going to succeed or not," Wendell Berry told Bill Moyers in a rare TV interview aired earlier this month. "The only question we have a right to ask is what’s the right thing to do? What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?" It's easy to get discouraged once you recognize the threat that climate change and the destruction … [Read more...]

Farewell to empire

Vermont independence parade entry

For one of America's smallest states, Vermont has a lot to teach the rest of the country about living locally. It's always had the local democracy of the New England town meeting.  Now Vermont is getting attention for a thriving local food economy of small farms, great farmers markets and food entrepreneurs exporting everything from organic seeds to local tofu. And in the future, the Second … [Read more...]

Seeing Berry’s Wilderness again

Wendell-Berry

In the early '90s I made the conscious decision to drop out of college. I distinctly remember the day I withdrew from classes and made the call to my parents. I remember thinking: "Now I'm a statistic." College dropout. I watched as the debt grew and my confidence in finding a suitable career faded. I made the decision to drop out based on the reality that I could avoid debt and simply work. I … [Read more...]

Twitter will set you free to Occupy

Hash-Tag

I'm pretty conflicted about computers and the Internet these days. On the one hand, I run an internet magazine, build websites for small businesses and local good causes alike and even get paid to help people use Facebook and Twitter. It's fun too, since we all know that the web is the ultimate instant gratifier. Where else can you write an article or make a change to a visual design and, … [Read more...]

As farms go, so go the cities

What Matters? by Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry is like Howard Stern -- you either love him or you have no use for him. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground. Those who love Berry, from homesteaders and Greenhorns (that's new farmers to you and me) to community gardeners, find inspiration in the plainspoken moral indignation of this latter-day Jeffersonian who won't be budged from his conviction that the real America is … [Read more...]

Wendell Berry’s weapons of mass destruction

Wendell Berry

I'm pretty sure that in his now-famous press briefing of Feb. 12, 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wasn't trying to write poetry in the vein of William Carlos Williams. Yet, how beautifully he captured the conundrum at the center of all human attempts to make sense of reality, helpfully set to verse by Slate: The Unknown As we know, There are known knowns. There are things we know we … [Read more...]