Blog Post 1

Jun 8th, 2014 | By | Category: Blog

One of the feelings I struggled with during our discussion last Sunday was an overwhelming sense that I had no idea where to begin solving the problems that Berry outlines in his book. In “Conservationist and Agrarian” Berry discusses the incredible power that “land-exploiting corporations” hold over American culture and life (public schools, politics, etc.), articulating the inextricable links between everything. So…I found that the more I thought about it, the more tangled the predicament became. When I returned to the text, though, Berry’s essays quelled some of my frustrations. He manages to outline the problems he sees and also offers solutions, rather than seeming fatalistic. I find that this feeling relates directly to the quotation around which we are basing our thoughts: “Be joyful/though you have considered all the facts.” It reminds the reader to remain optimistic in the face of situations and facts that persuade him to be otherwise. One day this week my supervisor took me to a section of the arboretum where I’m working. There they had planted a new cypress swamp to replace one that had been logged in the past. The trees are still very young and I asked how long it would take until the cypresses were as big as they would in an older swamp. He said it would take at least one hundred years… I vocalized my disappointment that I would not be alive to see them. He told me that though it was sad, we cannot allow ourselves to be stopped by what lies before us or how long it takes to replace and fix. If we never act, then nothing will ever change.

Elizabeth, you mentioned “Food, Inc.” and that some farmers felt as though the movie attacked them. It made me think about how important it is an any movement to understand the consequences and fragility of bringing people into a conflict or movement when they may not wish to be a part of it. For many farmers their contracts with bigger companies and the way that our food economy is set up make it difficult to even churn out a sustainable living, so how can one ask them to put what they have in danger by becoming an activist? When someone is focused on surviving, is it fair to ask them to put themselves directly in the line of fire?

3 Comments to “Blog Post 1”

  1. Eliza Margolin says:

    In response to the point you raised in your last paragraph – is it at all fair to engage others in a conflict in which they want no part? – I think part of the answer is to be found in the line you started with. Some farmers have no desire to change the status quo (which is of course completely valid). But if the question is about how to engage people, I think some of it lies in fostering joy. Yes, present the facts – changing the status quo might make your life harder for x, y, and z reasons. But, even so, here too are the reasons to be joyful about change.

  2. Boonsita Kitikhun says:

    Hi Carlyn!
    I really like what your supervisor said. “If we never act, then nothing will ever change.” At least the tree you planted would be benefit the next generation, maybe they are your grandchildren. This is the same reason for many protesters that want to fight for their children and next generations. They want the next generations to get the benefits that everyone in the whole country should get.

    You are right about the situation about farming that most of small farms are dependent on bigger company. I think if the farmers are more self-reliance and sufficient, they might not need this big company to control on what they do. Also, I think the government should should support the farmers to follow this path and have regulations that control the big company not to get too big.

  3. Alison Surdoval says:

    Your example of how the line in Berry’s poem is present in your work really struck me. I hadn’t considered the idea that there could be a third aspect of the line “Be joyful/though you have considered all the facts” that relates joyfulness and fact: action. Although he does not explicitly say to take action in his manifesto, I think that Berry’s entire piece is a call to action. Maybe it is the way the poem is written through declaration and command, or maybe it depends on who is reading it and how the issues he uncovers resonate with that reader. In any case, it makes perfect sense, as you point out “If we never act, then nothing will ever change”. And if nothing ever changes, then the facts remain the same. While there are certainly ways to obtain happiness despite considering present fact, maybe joy can come from considering the facts and acting on them.

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