Wendell Berry on Culture and Agriculture

In his presentation at the 1974 Agriculture for a Small Planet Symposium in Spokane, Washington, Wendell Berry remarked:

"Few people, whose testimony would have mattered, have seen the connection between the modernization of agricultural techniques and disintegration of the culture and the communities of farming."

A Revolution in Agriculture

Wes Jackson does not apologize for thinking long-term.  He knows such visioning is a practical necessity for achieving a transition to an agriculture that restores and conserves the health of the soil while mitigating the effects of climate change.  He is a plant geneticist, after all, trained to consider future generations.  At The Land Institute, which he founded four decades ago, the task at hand is to breed perennial crops th

Cultivating a Farmland Commons

A new generation of young, well-prepared, and sustainable farmers is on the rise, ready to establish themselves securely on the land.  Inspired by the opportunity to do meaningful, healthy, and productive work by rebuilding regional food systems, these entrepreneurs form a powerful force for the future of ecologically informed agriculture. 
 
By raising food locally for local markets and fostering a farm-to-table cuisine, they are creating an alternative to our global supply chain and making visible the connection among food, farms, farmers, and community.

Speaking for Collective Change

What does a new economy built on principles of fairness and sustainability look like?  How do we model it; where is it emerging; how do we collectively strategize to fully implement it?  These are the pressing questions of our time.
 
The Schumacher Center's speakers are pioneers in the development of a new economy. Together they are responsible for the creation of multiple organizations, initiatives, and publications that are addressing these questions.

Their voices are powerful; they are leading a revolution for change. To broaden the influence of these voices, the Schumacher Center's staff has assembled a  compendium of exceptional speakers.

The Fine Art of Pamphleteering in 2014

It was October of 1981 when Kirkpatrick Sale, supported by E. F. Schumacher Society (now the Schumacher Center) Director David Ehrenfeld, recommended that we revive the fine art of “pamphleteering.” Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson had just delivered prophetic talks at the First Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures at Mount Holyoke College.

In “A Call for a Revolution in Agriculture,” Wes argued for an agriculture based on perennial grains, leaving the fragile prairie soils rich and untilled. It was a bold plan with nothing less than the future health of our heartland at stake.

A Parallel Grassroots Political Economy

At a seminar held in the Schumacher Center’s Berkshire Library this fall, Gar Alperovitz provocatively posed the question

"If you don't like Capitalism and you don't like Socialism, what do you want?"

The responses he received indicated both a confidence in solutions initiated by citizens working in their local economies and a distrust of purely political solutions.  They also indicated that issues of appropriate scale need to be addressed, though not feared.  Joanna Arnow's short video with excerpts from the seminar can be seen below.

Necessity and Promise

January 13th was the 11th anniversary of Bob Swann's death.  Bob was a friend of economist Fritz Schumacher and inspired the Schumacher Center for a New Economics' work on local currencies and the commons.  The following was written for his tribute book.  It anticipates the BerkShares loan program and the Agrarian Trust.  
 
Join us in remembering Bob.

Coming of Age

The Schumacher Center for a New Economics is recognized for its work modeling community-based systems for holding land, issuing currency, and engaging citizens in supporting their regional economies. That work is now growing, reflecting a "coming of age" for a new economics that considers what is just and equitable for all Earth's citizens while caring for our shared ecosystem.  2013 was a great year for the Schumacher Center, with exceptional lecture events, remarkable media attention to our BerkShares program, and the launch of several initiatives reconsidering how land is accessed.  

America Emerging: Culture and Economics

America's task among the nations is to shape a just, equitable, and ecologically responsible economy.  The economic is our realm, our element.  As Americans, we move in and through the economic confidently and flexibly.
 
Even when we have achieved financial stability we do not hesitate to recognize a new spirit, a new direction in the economic, and throw caution and convention aside to support it. Or, we sense when our economic decisions have gone awry and we pick up and start again, undaunted.
 

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