By Mary Huisman and Peter Boogaart, Creation Care Group
The thoughts and works of Wendell Berry, among the greatest living American writers, will be the focus of two special events in Holland on Sept. 13 and 14.
A writer of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction essays, Berry examines both community and nature, reflecting on their relationship and on issues such as our impact on the environment, the impact of industrial agriculture, and preservation of rural communities.
The first event is a film and panel discussion about Berry’s work at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13 at Hope Church, 77 W. 10th St. in Holland.
The second event is a retreat for participants to explore Berry’s lifetime of work as a writer, farmer and activist. It will be 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Outdoor Discover Center, 4214 56th St., Holland.
While the events are related, they also stand independent of one another. The public is invited to attend either event or both. There is no charge for the film. Cost of the Saturday retreat is $25, and space is limited; registration is available on Eventbrite.
The Friday evening event will be a showing of the film “Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry.” A panel discussion will follow the film, with panelists Steve Bouma-Prediger, professor of religion at Hope College; Carol Bechtel, professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary; and Andy Rosendaal, curator of Eighth Day Farms.
“Look and See” is a cinematic portrait of the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of industrial agriculture, as seen through the mind’s eye of Berry. Through his award- winning poetry, fiction, and non-fiction essays, Berry is a prophetic voice winsomely calling us to live in ways that honor our calling to be earthkeepers of our home planet.
“Look and See” is filmed in the rolling hills of Henry Country, Kentucky, where Berry has lived and farmed since 1964. It weaves Berry’s poetry with gorgeous cinematography and the testimonies of family and neighbors.
The Saturday retreat, “Look, See and Listen,” will explore Berry’s lifetime of writings – poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction – with a focus on rest and delight. Berry fans are invited to bring a favorite quote and/or poem. People new to the work of Wendell Berry are invited to bring their desire to learn more.
In 1965, Berry astonished colleagues and critics when he left the publishing epicenter of New York to return home to Port Royal, Kentucky. He and his wife, Tanya, bought a small farmhouse and began a life of farming, writing and teaching.
This lifelong relationship with both the land and community would come to form the core of his prolific writings.
A half century later Henry County, like many rural communities across America, has become a place of quiet ideological struggle. In the span of a generation, the agrarian virtues of simplicity, land stewardship, sustainable farming, local economies and rootedness to place have been replaced by a capital-intensive model of industrial agriculture characterized by machine labor, chemical fertilizers, soil erosion and debt – all of which have frayed the fabric of rural communities.
The public is invited to bring their perspectives, thoughts and comments to both event. Registration for both events is available on Eventbrite or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Huisman is a member of the Creation Care Group of Grace Episcopal Church in Holland. Peter Boogaart leads the Macatawa Creation Care Group that meets at Hope Church in Holland. Both are also involved in the Citizens Climate Lobby.
This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.
About this Series
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.