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Meeting Wendell Berry

“I saw you at Actor’s Theatre last year with Gary Snyder,” I stammered. “Gary said the first thing we should teach all children is proper penmanship. I asked you about education? What we should teacher students in school?”

His eyes lifted as he finished signing the first book. More than anything else, his presence came off as comforting.

“I’m not sure what good it is to teach children the things we do,” he explained.

One of the most significant opportunities for growth in education, in my small mind anyway, lies in curriculum. Content. Standards. The what of learning seems more important than other more popular topics, like how and where. So of course I agreed.

“What good is any kind of knowledge without self-knowledge to shape it?” I responded.

“Absolutely right. You’ve got that right. Yes,” He agreed with enough enthusiasm to make me wonder if someone else had their hand in the back of my head and used my body like a Ventriloquist. Better introduce myself.

“Mr. Berry, my name is Terry Heick, and I’m a teacher. Your work has influenced me greatly. One of the things I do is take your ideas, and help contextualize them for other teachers. Or try anyway.”

“Well, I’m not sure I’ve had any ideas. These ideas aren’t mine. I got them from other people, who got them from other people. And so on.”

Read more about Terry Heick's encounter at Teach Thought

Where to Start Reading Wendell Berry

I am regularly asked where to start if you want to begin reading Berry. To which I usually just shake my head, laugh uncomfortably and say something along the lines of, “Oh man I don’t even know where to begin!” But let’s be honest. I do. It just depends on who you are and what you’re in to.

First, Berry writes poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. The non-fiction is heady and rich. The fiction is bucolic and slow, but deeply moving and convicting. And the poetry is as accessible as it is inspiring. So! Where to begin. I’ve decided the best way to structure this is by use case. [Disclaimer: this is not exhaustive. It’s just purely a place to start. If it was to be exhaustive, I would have to devote my entire blog and the rest of it’s subsequent posts to it.] That being said, here we go…

Continue reading this piece by Rebecca Parker Payne HERE

And, not so humbly promoting this site, take a look HERE.

Wendell Berry and Urbanism

Wendell Berry, the agrarian poet-activist, has long understood the human and natural interrelationships of the world. Berry’s rendering of human settlements in his essay, “Solving for Pattern,” takes a holistic view of the natural, technological and human interdependencies of our world. In it, Berry sharply criticizes the industrial view of agriculture that has harmed as much as helped. Berry’s essay moves us away from the instrumental vocabulary of efficiency and profit and pushes us to use a moral one.

For Berry, the blind rationalism of industrial agriculture that applies “solutions” often creates a chain of unforeseen set of future problems:

If, for example, beef cattle are fed in large feed lots, within the boundaries of the feeding operation itself a certain factory-like order and efficiency can be achieved. But even within those boundaries that mechanical order immediately produces a biological disorder, for we know that health problems and dependence on drugs will be greater among cattle so confined than among cattle on pasture. And beyond those boundaries, the problems multiply. Pen feeding of cattle in large numbers involves, first, a manure-removal problem, which becomes at some point a health problem for the animals themselves, for the local watershed, and for adjoining ecosystems and human communities.

Read the full article by Dallas Herndon at Broken Sidewalk