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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wendell Berry in SLC

I went to see Wendell Berry read in SLC on Thursday night at the Masonic Temple in SLC (fun location). He was in town as part of the 14th Annual Stegner Symposium. If I heard him correctly, he hasn't been in Utah in 40 years.

He read from an unfinished essay on the economy, a short piece of fiction, and then took some questions. [I'll post a link to the essay when/if I can find it.]

At some point he was asked about education and he emphasized the need to get students:
  1. asking "what is this place we live in?" and educated about the local habitat
  2. figuring out what the local environment can sustain
  3. working across disciplines to find solutions that are mutually beneficial for man and the environment
He also talked about encouraging students to go back to their homes to bring the information they learn to bear on their communities. This commitment to place is a common theme in his writing.

He had a number of choice comments about how terrible a "healthy economy" is in an ecological sense. Not the best quote of the night but the only thing I wrote down verbatim--he diagnosed our political and economic troubles as related to a lack of skepticism:

"Skepticism ought to be native to us. Our ancestors survived because they were a little skeptical."


Related: Salt Lake Tribune article

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