these days I spend an inordinate amount of time scrolling the interwebs for news and inspiration, currently things found at the intersection of food and the environment, but more recently, looking at the concept of Wilderness. Capitalized and not capitalized. What does it mean? Along this train of thought I stumbled upon: "hope is an obligation" and other words of wisdom in an excellent Wendell Berry interview over at Earth Island Journal. Here's just a few things I love from it:
" 'Wild' is not nearly so stable a term as “wilderness.” A “wilderness area,” I guess, can be described as “wild,” but so can a street gang. If “wild” means uncontrolled, then our present economy and “domestic life” are “wild.” So are our multiple epidemics of invasive species. So is our plague of toxic chemicals. If “wild” means “natural” then our domestic and economic life is “wild” because of its absolute dependence on nature. Your suggestion that “wildness” is a “way of being” reveals the difficulty, for the two terms are in contradiction. Ways of being, as careful observation of “wildlife” will tell you, are domestic. All species – except, temporarily, industrial humans – have to “make themselves at home.” They have to live in places to which they are well enough adapted to find food, raise young, survive winter, etc. And so I’m no longer comfortable in speaking of indigenous creatures as “wild.”
I think “wilderness areas” are necessary. But I am opposed to efforts to establish wilderness areas and parks by using eminent domain to drive out settled human populations. The Tennessee Valley Authority’s expropriation of farmers native to the Land Between the Lakes in western Kentucky in the 1960s was of a piece with our treatment of the Indians. It was an exercise in government tyranny. There is no necessary conflict between “wilderness values” and well-husbanded human home places. There is no sense in driving out people who belong to a place and replacing them with people who don’t. Better a settled human population than a population of tourists, police, “nature writers,” and “wildlife photographers.”
Given the opportunity, what life advice would you today convey to a younger Wendell of 60 years ago?
"Learn more science, especially biology, more foreign languages, more history. Be kinder."
What outstanding writing and or life lessons did your time with Wallace Stegner at Stanford grant you?
"I suppose I'm still under the influence of Mr. Stegner's devotion to the principles of responsible workmanship and responsible stewardship of the land. One's relationship to good teachers has no past tense. They stay with you.
What have you gained from your wholesale avoidance of electronic media?
I try to keep away from screens of all kinds, and I am less and less attracted to the radio. There are three advantages, or three results, that are important to me: a fairly continuous awareness of this place in which I live and of which I limitlessly desire to be aware; freedom from the talk of media people who are afraid to be quiet; and maybe enough time for reading.
"Hope is an obligation “
And here are a couple more links of inspiration:
Mark Bittman on inequity
And young farmers over at Farm Hack problem solving: big pieces of machinery are too expensive and too big for small farmers. So Farm Hack brings the DIY to infrastructure and technology for small farmers here.