Here are some sample presentation themes that I always adapt for each specific gathering of people.
Responding to The Call of the Land
Our relationship with the land will determine the future of our earth. The problems of agriculture belong not just to a small community of farmers; they are the concerns of all humanity. Worldwide, our systems of food production and our staple diets are mutating at warp speed while our economy and our climate wobble, creating a troubling prospect for land, plants, animals and, inevitably, for us. Many people recognize this, yet lack a sense of how they might respond. This presentation will offer a broad perspective, and also highlight models and specific steps leading forward.
As a matter of survival, the land is calling out to us. As a matter of survival, we must listen and respond. We have the potential to do this with a wisdom that will reverberate for generations to come. We can mobilize our will, intelligence, and strength on the essential matter of producing clean food for ourselves in a way that stabilizes and heals the land. This is the most basic and necessary idea of 21st century agrarianism.
I can present this theme as either a keynote talk, or as a participatory workshop with ample space for group discussion.
Agrarian Ethos: Making a Collective Statement
As we confront radically changing circumstances in our economy, energy supply, and food chain, we have an opportunity to change and reconfigure the way we live with the land. We can make a deliberate shift not just out of necessity, but also out of wisdom. The basis of that wisdom will be our ethos.
In his book, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold asserted that nothing as important as a land ethic could ever be written. It must instead, he said, exist in the minds and hearts of the people as an authentic product of their social evolution. “All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that community, but his ethics prompt him also to cooperate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for).”
Leopold has a valid point in observing that to be real, an ethos must be the living experience of the people, not a written theory. But we must have continued writing, discussion, and debate about our land; these activities create opportunities for an illumined ethos to take root widely in the minds and souls of citizens.
I can facilitate this as a talk or as a participatory workshop to discuss the themes of agrarianism and ethics, and then through group process to write an ethical statement. As a finished product, the statement could be added to conference proceedings, published on the Internet, or used in other ways.