Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, Mary Berry in Conversation

December 23, 2016

The problem of sustainability is simple enough to state. It requires that the fertility cycle of birth, growth, maturity, death, and decay—what Albert Howard called “the Wheel of Life”—must turn continuously in place, so that the law of return is kept and nothing is wasted. For this to happen in the stewardship of humans, there must be a cultural cycle, in harmony with the fertility cycle, also continuously turning in place. The cultural cycle is an unending conversation between old people and young people, assuring the survival of local memory, which has, as long as it remains local, the greatest practical urgency and value. This is what is meant, and is all that can be meant, by “sustainability.” The fertility cycle turns by the law of nature. The cultural cycle turns on affection.

It All Turns on Affection, Wendell Berry

On October 22, 2016, Wendell Berry, one of America’s favorite authors, Wes Jackson, President Emeritus of The Land Institute, and Mary Berry, Executive Director of the Berry Center, came together on stage at the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington for the 36th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures.

The event was booked as a Conversation on the 50-year Farm Bill, but when Mary Berry read from her father’s It All Turns on Affection, the topics soon broadened to include:

Education for homecoming; the patience needed to establish a perennial agriculture; the patience needed to establish a local culture and local economy to support a perennial agriculture; the Odyssey by Homer, the poems of William Blake; friendship, family, community; and other topics characteristically Berry and Jackson!

The conversation was infused with the warmth of their many years of shared interests and rich friendship. It was funny and wise.  Touching and sharp witted.

We are grateful to The Land Institute and the Berry Center for their partnership in arranging this remarkable conversation.   We are pleased to offer this video for you to share with family and friends.

Photo credit: http://smallwaterfishing.com/kentucky/benjy-kinman-lake-henry-county-ky

Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry is a prolific writer, an environmentalist, and a farmer. He has received numerous honors, such as the National Humanities Medal and the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle, and is a fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences. His recent books include The Art of Loading Brush: New Agrarian WritingsWhat Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth, and Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food.

Tags: building resilient communities, building resilient economies, building resilient food systems