Blog Posts on Wendell Berry, “Conservation and Local Economy” and “The Work of Local Culture”

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24 thoughts on “Blog Posts on Wendell Berry, “Conservation and Local Economy” and “The Work of Local Culture”

  1. The piece entitled The Work of Local Culture by Wendell Berry, highlights specific points on how as a human society we contribute to the environment and community around us. He starts the piece of by signifying the symbolism used in a bucket that has collected items over the years. He says that what is inside are really stories that have meaning for our lives. As humans we should grow in community and collect our own stories to turn into accounts to tell future generations. He states that the local soil and local culture are related and I agree with him. ‘If local culture can not preserve and improve the local soil, the local community will decay.’ We often seem to neglect the land that we live on and abuse its use. Instead of enjoying the monetary compensation and learning to experience the world, we will end up dumping truckloads of garbage and pollution to the countryside then leaving it less productive. He states that the community around him is being diminished by the centralizing process of our national economy. Its not just city people that present the problem, we have to take responsibility that all of us contribute this in some shape or form.
    There is community in all of this, formed by stories of memories we tell one another to form trust which forms bonds that stick together. A good community is a good local economy built on good faith. We live in a society that rely on economic growth, and future technology, without it we don’t know how to function. Our new norm suggest each generations goal is to out mode their parents. To an extent this is true. We are economically growing into a further advanced community that relies more on machines and industries than nature and people. Roots are then starting to disappear. The community is broken up when children leave for college and this breaks ties.Community is built upon dependence on one another. Our future seems to be determined by the most wealthy or powerful and this I also agree on. We rely on how powerful media tells us to live our lives and this is not always a trustworthy source. We need change for improvement and this will come from starting in the country or country towns around us. He states that we are ignorant towards the land and this is true. We don’t always understand or have a lack of knowledge to where we are. Sometimes we should have ignorance in order to enjoy the nature around us. He finally states that the renewal of rural areas will start with neighborliness, love of precious things, and start to wish to be home.This essay was really enjoyable because it brings a point of view that many of us over look do to the business of our daily lives. We need to be ignorant in beauty, but aware of the precautions of not caring for it.

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  2. In the article “The Work of Local Culture” I like how Berry talked about a centripetal force. He explains the focus of this centripetal force should be around the earth but instead the force centers around the economy. In a metaphor, Berry compares urban cities to ringworm, an infection that is eating outward and destroying the earth. He explains we can begin to reverse this issue by starting in rural areas. Rural areas are the site of the problem for they have the farms and the small towns. In his article “Conservation and Local Economy” he explains we start in the rural areas by bringing local economies and local ecosystems together. He argues we need to return to economic self-determination to the people. For example, food should be “consumed locally and produced on small farms and processed in small nonpolluting plants which are locally owned.” He persuades that the relationship with nature should be intimate and not economic. We need to respect the nature, care for it, and learn from it. For nature is “the best farmer and forester, for she does not destroy the land in order to make it productive.”

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  3. In Wendell Berry’s writing of the Conservation and Local Economy, Berry talks a lot about how humans are the ones destroying the earth. In one passage it says, “For one thing, we have caused the earth to be seriously diseased, it is not yet without health. The earth we have before us now is still abounding and beautiful. We must learn again to see that present world for what it is. The health of nature is the primary ground of hope- if we can find the humility and wisdom to accept nature as our teacher.” For Berry to say that we as humans have caused the Earth to be diseased I think this means that we have not been treating it the way we should have been treating it, like chopping down lots of forests and being so industrialized. Then he goes to talk on to talk about how “we must learn again to see that present world for what it is”, I think that Berry is trying to say that we need to start conserving again and take in what is still beautiful and natural of the world. Overall I thought this was a very interesting passage, you can clearly see that Berry is very passionate about the earth and all of its potential.

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  4. Our world has become a tool for our success. All we have created has come with a price but we don’t see that. All we see is the final project that is portrayed through the media. Everything is good and well. We have come so far with technology but the price is our scarce resources. All the media wants us to see though is what was created from these resources and how they think it will benefit the world. We see commercials of roaming animals, clean water, happy people but we are living in a lie. This world that we have created was the vision of a handful of people and we are just the tools for their project. Wendell Berry sees this and he is trying to show us that the world is not all sunshine and rainbows. He is brutally honest which some people are turned off by but sometimes we need somebody to open our eyes to the horror. We need to see our mistakes so we can understand what is truly going on. It seems that every aspect of the earth has been captured and resold as products and the companies only care about the single most hypnotizing thing, MONEY. The rivers are polluted? Don’t worry we made a profit. The air is polluted? Don’t worry we made a profit. Animals are dying? Don’t worry we made a profit. People are dying? Don’t worry we are making a profit. Are lives have become corrupted and we need to see the world for what it really is, dying. Once we have realized the tremendous mistakes we have made we can change our ways for the better.

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    • 5 points. Part of Berry’s argument (in terms of his writing overall) is for us all to also realize our own responsibility for what we have done to nature and communities. We can’t blame it all on larger organizations such as corporations, for it is society’s desires that, to a large extent, create and support them.

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  5. In Wendell Berry’s “The Work of Local Culture,” he talks about how society’s most important job is to take care of the earth and that we need the earth in order to survive. He mentions this centripetal force , and that ours should be focused on the earth and the land. Instead, we focus ours on industry and cities. There could be an opposing force, such as the country, but Berry says that the cities have destroyed them. He mentions how the country gives products to the cities and in return, only get pollution and garbage. This has caused country people to start living like city people. When country people start doing this, it destroys the local community and local economy, which destroys local knowledge and memory. With no local memory, members of a community do not know each other and will not help one another. Berry says that a good community is a good local economy. It should depend on itself for essential needs, not an outside source. Being dependent on outside sources can lead to economic failure, which Berry believes can then lead to the decay of a local culture. This decay of local culture is what is destroying the foundations of local life today. Our society grew up on the theme of return. You would grow up and did what your parents did or grow up, go to school, and still come back to your home. Now, the normality of society is to leave home and not return. Berry blames part of this on our education system. In school, kids are taught that in order to be successful, you have to leave school and make money. Nothing pertains to the home or community anymore. So when all these people move away, there is no longer a community culture or economy. This is what leads to the destruction of a community. Berry thinks that the way to fix this degradation of communities is to start it at the site of the problem, the country. He believes that since rural towns still have farms and small businesses, that they can encourage change.

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  6. These week we mainly focus on Wendell Berry and his essay.When I do my research about him,I find out not only his essay but also his poems are very straight-out and scrumptious.In his poem “A Warning To My Readers”he described himself as “stubborn.angry,full” However,his characteristic became his most famous writing-style for his works.In his poem “For The Future” he used a story about birds singing to warn people should always focus on interaction between nature and ourselves with simple words.Also,in his poem “1991-I” he showed his altitude about stop wars and keep peaceful life.In most his poem,images always carry more information than what we realized to be.Maybe in his perspective,he will think our world exist a lot more language than human use and all objects have it’s own ideas.At the same time,in his essay,he used his typical style to describe how we destroy our nature,our Earth.I think his phrase knocked on our doors to protect our planet and pushed us to do a self-introspection.We need more writers like Wendell Berry who is not always used his phrase to entertain readers but persuade us to do something with our enthusiasm.

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  7. In Wendell Berry’s piece of writing, “The Work of Local Culture”, he talks about how people in the world should take care of the Earth. He talks about how taking care of nature in the world should be every human being’s top priority, that it is the most important job for a human being. He talks about this concept called centripetal force. He says that our centripetal force should be focused on the Earth and nature. However, for almost everyone in the world, our centripetal force is focused on the economy. He talks about how people today destroy the Earth. One example of this is when he talks about how we fill truck loads off trash and things that pollute our environment, and we just dump it all out in the country. He talks about how the country only does good for us, and in return for it’s good deeds, we give them our garbage. I really like Wendell Berry’s writing style. It is straight and to the point. He has his own opinion on this topic, and he only supports it, and does not care what anyone else thinks or says.

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    • 5 points. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed Berry and his style. When he talks about garbage, I think he’s speaking not only figuratively but also literally. Yes, we will often put landfills in rural areas and literally send cities’ garbage to the country. But I think Berry also means that what rural communities get in return for sending their natural resources to the centralized economy (and the majority city population) is metaphorical garbage–crappy consumer products, pollution, corrupt cultural creations (TV shows, movies, etc.), and so forth.

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  8. Berry echoes a well known quote on page 199 when he says “The business of America is business.” Yet unlike others, Berry doesn’t believe that business should be created to provide profits and continue to fuel a consumption based society. Reading this I had no idea going in who Wendell Berry was but afterwards I felt that he and I had some similar viewpoints on a lot of issues. I wholeheartedly agree with him as to what business should be used for. Berry says that businesses should provide goods and services but be restricted to an extent so to not damage the environment around them. I agree with him that the exploitation of the land and expropriation of all of its resources has gone too far and needs to be reigned in. Like Berry, I believe that local goods and services are much better than a globalized economy. To both of us, it would be much better that someone uses the land who lives there because they will hopefully be mindful enough to take care of it not only for themselves but all who would eventually use it. Berry talks about all of the issues plaguing the natural world due to the mass consumption of our society and I believe that he makes a good argument for trying to solve it through local economies. If we continue on the path that we are on eventually it will not matter the wealth created for shareholders or the new iphones built using resources from all over the world because there will be a world so scarce that it could be hard to feed the population let alone provice consumer products.

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    • 5 points. And, really, that time when resources become incredibly scarce (not to mention the devastating effects of climate change) is coming sooner rather than later. That we are trying to extract oil from tar sands and bedrock (fracking) is just one of the biggest examples.

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  9. Wendell Berry’s ideas in “the Work of Local Culture” have greatly changed the way I view rural and urban cities. Previous to reading Wendell Berry I used to this idea that country towns don’t really have anything to offer the nation other than the food they produce. However, after reading “the Work of Local Culture” I realize that rural towns have a lot to offer the United States of America that we are not taking advantage of. For example nobody really realizes the amount of knowledge imbedded in country towns. All that knowledge about the land and the memories of people are taken for granted by most people in America. So much so that a lot of country people believe that it’s better to live in bigger cities causing them to move reducing the amount of memories and knowledge in rural towns. I also really liked Berry’s idea of how tv and technology in general are destroying the sense of community in the USA. He describes how in the past neighbors would spend evenings together sharing their stories increasing their sense of community and knowledge. I believe in essence Berry wants us to return to the past where people had a greater sense of community and for us to respect nature by going with natures cycles.

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    • 5 points. In his overall philosophy, Berry has elsewhere said that he doesn’t advocate returning to the past because we actually have never entirely fulfilled the ideal way of building community and caring for the land!

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  10. In the essay called “Conservation and Local Economy” Wendell Berry highlights the idea of people ruining the earth by not taking care of it properly. Berry states, “And after observing the worsening condition of our land, we have only to raise our eyes a little to see that worsening condition of those who are using the land and who are entrusted with its care.” Here I couldn’t agree with Berry more. He is trying to wake people up to pay attention to the horrible situation we are in that most people don’t even realize. Humans are trusted to take care of this planet so not only do we have to watch out for the land, but most importantly, watch out for the people who are supposed to be responsible for respecting this land. One of the most important parts of this essay is when Berry talks about how humans are too caught up on blaming each other for the destruction of the land rather than focusing on how they can improve caring for the land themselves. Humans will not realize their carelessness until the land is utterly destroyed and we realize we’ve reached “human failure” as Berry says. It’s hard to see the decline we are going through because it is slowly happening, little at a time and the only ones who can stop this from happening is we, humans. Unless we wake up and get our minds wrapped around this serious problem as a whole, we will keep declining slowly until we reach a point where we cannot do anything about it; it would be too late. I feel like the first step to improvement is to get everyone aware of the amount of destruction humans are creating because I feel like many people are not aware of it. Then, we can move on to actually taking action to conserve and take care of the environment.

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    • 5 points. Actually, at this point, many of the environmental problems we have, especially climate change, are accelerating–the rapidity with which changes are happening (melting of glaciers, rising of oceans, extinction of species, etc.) is surprising even many scientists. We’re now on the fast track, not a slow decline in a lot of ways.

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  11. in ‘Conservation and local economy’, Wendall Barry states how people ruin the earth by extracting resources and not reciprocating the usage. He mentions how we are continually destroying the very resource that gave us the ability to live. Comedian, Louie C.K makes a funny joke when he mentions thought of God coming back and being mad at humans for ruining the earth.
    ‘The Work of Local Culture’ talks about how small towns run America. Small towns produce; food, oil, coal, dairy, etc. We like to think that NYC and LA are the heart of our country but it is really small town America that gives America the strength it has now. Many towns were historically factory towns, which means that a town would have a monopoly for an entire industry. For Example, Detroit, MI was a historically small town that was only known for the Ford factory but that small town power is what made it a powerhouse. Overall small towns fuel America in both literal and figurative ways.

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    • 5 points. Part of Berry’s concern is that small towns have lost that power, especially since World War II. I’m not sure I’d call Detroit a “small town,” though, even when the Ford factory was first built. (It was about 300,000 then.) 🙂

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  12. Though this piece was very informative on why we should conserve the land, I found it also to be very sad at times just knowing that we are slowly destroying it. One quote that displays the dark side of how we treat our land was this, “For a long time, the news from everywhere in rural America has been almost unrelievedly bad: bankruptcy, foreclosure, depression, suicide, the departure of the young, the loneliness of the old, soil loss, soil degradation, chemical pollution, the loss of genetic and specific diversity, the extinction of threatened extinction of species, the depletion of aquifers, stream degradation, the loss of wilderness, strip mining, clear-cutting, population loss, the loss of supporting economies, the death of towns.” All of these show that we are truly hurting our land for its use economy. It also shows that we are getting farther away from being close to family. As time goes on, the younger men and women seem to be leaving the house at increasingly younger ages. Also the fact that old people are placed in nursing homes when they don’t want to be is very sad. This person might want to live close with family for their last few years yet their family constantly suggests that they would be better off in one of these homes. Wendell then talks about how people believe science will fill in the gaps that are being put there by us. Me and him both find this hard to believe when even precent science continues to be placing these gaps. At some point we need to start fixing these problems or we will slowly see our land destroyed. Don’t believe me, well think of it this way, we can’t be going backwards forever.

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    • 5 points. The overall condition of the world that Berry describes certainly is depressing. But even Berry has an optimistic side–he says as long as there is some health in nature, it is recoverable. The recoverability from climate change, though, is becoming more and more of a question mark.

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