Wendell Berry at I Love Mountains Rally

Noted poet, essayist and novelist Wendell Berry was on hand again this year, but he said he doesn’t expect much response by Kentucky’s elected officials.

He said he’s been protesting surface mining and the effects on the land since 1964 but not much has changed.

“It has been hopeless so far,” Berry said of his decades’ long fight against strip mining. He noted the efforts by Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers to reinvigorate the economy of eastern Kentucky – an economy that has relied for decades almost exclusively on the coal industry.

“But it is futile to try to do something for people while you let the land be destroyed beneath their feet,” Berry said.

via nature-news-network

also at dailyindependent.com

Mary Berry interviewed by In These Times

Small farmers must select which stones to throw at Big Ag. And Mary Berry, Wendell’s daughter, is helping them take aim as executive director of the Berry Center in New Castle, Ky.

Why did you and your father create the Berry Center?

The Berry Center’s goal is to institutionalize agrarian thought and make a movement towards cultural change. We’ve been developing a four-year farm degree at St. Catherine College in Washington County, Kentucky. We're also working on a farm school, in Henry County, to help new or existing farmers learn what they need to know to get out of the commodity economy and into a local food economy. We're talking about everything farmers and landowners can produce on their land—from timber to tomatoes—and how to keep them secure, and out of a boom and bust economy.

Read more at In These Times

Wendell Berry and others to protest road construction

A number of prominent Kentucky artists are joining together to protest a potential road that would link US 27 in Jessamine County to I-75 in Madison County, commonly referred to as the I-75 Connector.

“OFF THE ROAD! A Rally Against the I-75 Connector” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 and will feature prominent Kentucky authors Wendell Berry and Barbara Kingsolver, who will express their opposition to the potential project at the Lyric Theatre, according to a press release about the event. Other Kentucky artists and musicians taking part include Crystal Wilkinson, Richard Taylor, Maurice Manning, Erik Reece, Eric Scott Sutherland, Matt Duncan, the Northside Sheiks and Tee Dee Young.

via southsidermagazine.com


I-75 Connector

"I-75 connector protest rally planned for Sept. 19" (The Richmond Register)

Berry speaks at Louisville rally

If we want to stop the impoverishment of land and people we ourselves must be prepared to become poorer. If we are to continue to respect ourselves as human beings, we have got to do all we can to slow and then stop the fossil fuel economy. But we must do this, fully realizing that our success if it happens will change our world and our lives more radically than we can now imagine. Without that realization, we cannot hope to succeed.

To succeed we will have to give up the mechanical ways of thought that have dominated the world increasingly over the last 200 years. And we must begin now to make that change in ourselves. For the necessary political changes will be made only in response to changed people. We must understand that fossil-fuel energy must be replaced not just by clean energy but also by less energy.

via blogs.courier-journal.com


"Questionnaire" and Event Photos (Blue in the Bluegrass blog)

Wendell Berry supports anti-frac campaign in MN

The following letter was written by Wendell Berry, author, farmer and environmentalist, to John Heid (formerly of Winona), in support of the Catholic Worker campaign against frac sand mining.

Dear John,

You have offered me the privilege of joining by letter with you and your friends in Winona in opposition to "frac sand mining." and I am happy to accept.

I will say, first, that there is never, for any reason, a justification for doing long-term or permanent damage to the ecosphere. We did not create the world, we do not own it, and we have no right to destroy any part of it.

See the complete letter HERE.

Wendell Berry on Civil Disobedience (The Progressive)

I have always been suspicious of people who seem to devote their entire lives to forms of protest. We all ought to have better things to do. Ken Kesey once said that the reason not to resist evil is that such resistance is dependent on evil; it makes you dependent on evil. He was right. And Edward Abbey said that saving the world is a good hobby—though he worked hard to save at least parts of it. As for me, the older I get, the less happy I am to leave home. All the places I go seem to be getting farther away. Frankfort, Kentucky, now appears as far off as the planet Saturn, and I wish it more remote.

via www.progressive.org

Wendell Berry contrasted to Occupy Dartmouth

I mention Berry because Berry is a man who has ruthlessly lived out his values. He became convinced that living normally in the modern economy is morally illicit and so he has decided to live in a radically different way. I wish I could say the same about the Occupiers.  

The panel, conducted a few days ago, was full of the usual Occupy silliness. It was incoherent from the start. It was meant to be a panel on the intersection of spirituality and the Occupy Movement, but hardly any mention of religion was made at all. At the beginning, all the students who were involved in the Occupy movement were asked to stand up to be applauded. They were praised for engaging the community in "meaningful dialogue" (what dialogue?) The fact that literally nothing has changed because they wanted to hang out in tents for a few weeks was passed over. 

via dartreview.com

from "About Civil Disobedience by Wendell Berry"

Civil disobedience is also plenty scary. At least to me it is. I have never felt one bit brave even in thinking about it. It involves a strange and risky paradox: You and your friends will be exploiting your obvious powerlessness to recover to your cause, and to your own citizenship, a just measure of power. But your acknowledged condition is powerlessness. Your commitment to nonviolence makes you vulnerable to violence. You can get hurt, or worse. It is fearful also to make yourself available to be treated with contempt. And you are, in effect, volunteering to go to jail.

via beyondrevolution.wordpress.com

Of interest: "I am an Environmentalist"

I am an environmentalist and a protester; I am a dissenter and a demander who will not be discouraged.

A small part of me stands in solidarity with the other protesters who have rightly been named Time’s Person of the Year.

I am a convenient target for reactionary politicians and know-it-all newspaper columnists who specialize in promoting business as usual.

I won’t be receiving a Christmas card from Prime Minister Stephen Harper – who thinks I’m un-Canadian and an “extremist” – or Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, who thinks I’m an “unlawful” person. I’m not sure what my Alberta in-laws think of me.

Because I disapprove of the Keystone XL and Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines, I am accused of being an anti-job-creation rebel who is trying to destroy the capitalist system.

Since I object to the mining of tar sands to extract oil, I am labelled a fossilized malcontent who has an obsolete understanding of how a modern resource economy works.

via thenelsondaily.com

Relating Wendell Berry to the Occupy Movement

The Occupy Movement is a symbolic expression of this alienation. To occupy is a demonstration of the need to make oneself an affective part of something. At the same time, the Movement has no agreed upon agenda. It proclaims its alienation from the world of power politics and economics by stating they are "the 99%” and “this is what democracy looks like,” but it is powerless to even suggest a solution or a way forward.

It occurs to me these circumstances are symptomatic of the point poet Wendell Berry is offering us. We cannot bring peace to the conflictual condition in our world, nor can we heal our spiritual alienation, unless we begin to recognize the sacred nature of the world in which we live. “There are no unsacred places … [only] desecrated places.”

via www.bettendorf.com