Sharing ‘Think Little’ by Wendell Berry

By Mary Berry

The first Earth Day was April 22nd, 1970, forty-four years ago. I was asked by Centre College to be the speaker for the Earth Day Convocation this year. First of all, it was a great pleasure to be on their beautiful campus and to talk to community members and students. My father’s old friend Milton Rieglemen, the J Rice Cowan Professor of English at Centre met me when I got to campus and was a wonderful guide. After which, Centre had kindly put together a couple of groups of farmers and students for me to meet creating a lovely, instructive time.

I want to thank Centre for the opportunity to be there and for giving me a reason to remember Daddy speaking at the University of Kentucky at the first Earth Day celebration. I called my mother to see if she or Daddy could remember what he talked about and she said immediately, “He read ‘Think Little’.” It was published in a book of essays called A Continuous Harmony. I had not read it for years and was struck, as I am always struck when reading my father’s pieces written during my long ago childhood, at how timely they are. It is certainly a credit to him that he has been so prescient, but as he says himself, what we really hope is to come to a time when his words of caution are not necessary. We are sharing ‘Think Little’ with you because its message is part of the central mission of The Berry Center. We want to take the power of movements and make them cultural change. Here for your enjoyment is ‘Think Little.”

First there was Civil Rights, and then there was the War, and now it is the Environment. The first two of this sequence of causes have already risen to the top of the nation’s consciousness and declined somewhat in a remarkably short time. I mention this in order to begin with what I believe to be a justifiable skepticism. For it seems to me that the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement, as popular causes in the electronic age, have partaken far too much of the nature of fads. Not for all, certainly, but for too many they have been the fashionable politics of the moment. As causes they have been undertaken too much in ignorance; they have been too much simplified; READ MORE

April was an extremely busy and productive month at The Berry Center. Besides the usual work of meetings about our program at St. Catharine, our work with the local economy, upcoming conferences and archiving that go on daily at the center I had a couple of trips.  A very useful one was time spent in Berkley attending the board meeting of The Schumacher Center for a New Economics and a meeting called Resources from Our Land: A symposium on farmland access organized by Severine Von Tscharmer Flemin and The Agrarian Trust. Berry Center board member Sarah Fritschner was with me. We spent a lovely morning in San Francisco with our friends at RSF  Social Finance. We want to especially thank Don Shaffer, Taryn Goodman, and Kate Danaher for their support of Louisville’s Farm to Table Program and The Berry Center, their interest in Kentucky, and, last but not least, a wonderful breakfast. These three groups are worth your attention. We consider them our friends and allies.

My father says that when he published The Unsettling of America he had three allies besides his family, and now look, he says, there are friends everywhere.  So thank you to the friends mentioned in the above paragraph and to all of you.

I will be back to my series on the tobacco program next month.