In Resilience Reflections we ask some of our contributors what it is that inspires their work, and what keeps them going.
Brian Miller lives in rural east Tennessee with his partner, Cindy. Since 1999 they have owned and operated Winged Elm Farm: a 70-acre working farm of pastures, orchards and mixed hardwoods. They direct market pork, lamb, mutton and beef to customers in Knoxville and Chattanooga. A native of Louisiana, Brian’s guiding influence in life is to know that everything begins with a roux.
Who/what has been your greatest inspiration? And why?
Interesting that my first response is to think of the writers who have influenced me. And since we are speaking of resilience I’ll plug for just about anything by Wendell Berry. But, in particular, I find his poetry to be a particularly potent salve for the mess we have made of this world.
Knowing what you know now about sustainability and resilience building what piece of advice would you give your younger self if you were starting
I love this question. Who wouldn’t want to knock a bit of sense into their younger self? But hard slaps to the head aside, I’d suggest to that younger self to not waste time on any notion of contemporary success. It is often bought at a price this planet cannot afford. Then I’d suggest that he go out and garden.
What keeps you awake at night?
A general sense that we are too few and too late to make a difference.
What gets you up in the morning or keeps you going?
A love of the work I do on the farm, the sense of accomplishment from that work and the sheer joy of eating a meal produced almost wholly from those efforts.
What has been your biggest setback and how did you recover?
Hard to pin that one down. Anyone who farms experiences setbacks on a daily basis. That rate of failure and a willingness to try again seems teach a few practical lessons in being resilient.
For you resilience is…?
In this context resilience is for me summed up by the old political saying: think global and act local. And the Wendell Berry in me would say that local is often the dirt under your feet. And that dirt requires a bit of stewardship if you are going to be able to “ask” anything from it on a renewable basis.
What one social/political/cultural/policy change would most assist your work/hopes/dreams?
Interactive small scale communities that work.
What gives you hope?
Looking at the big picture, frankly not much gives me hope. And, yet….
What book/film/other resource has most supported your work?
P. G. Wodehouse can still make me laugh even when the world makes one despair. That has to count for something, right?