Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Union Grove, WI

Some of my observations from spending a few days in a small town in the Midwest.

1. There is a lot of kids just out and about in free exploration. There is nothing wrong so they don't need to be coraled.

2. There are a lot of small parks in the neighborhoods. The town expects kids to be out and about.

3. There are a lot of people out walking. It is a village. People can walk to the services that they need. (See points one and two)

4. There are A LOT of church and A LOT of bars. There is also a Masonic lodge, but I am not sure whether I should group that with the church or the bar. There is also an American Legion, I think that one gets grouped with the bars.

5. Every one waves.

6. Every one is genuinely friendly. They don't care that they don't know me.

7. Though there are several business properties that are unoccupied there seem to be a lot of healthy businesses. Even though there are only 4,000 people in the village, there is a car dealership.

8. There seems to be no town industry but everything is economically healthy. Perhaps rearing healthy families is the main industry.

9. There seems to be no town industry but there is no clamoring for tourist dollars.

10. There main commodity for sale seems to older homes. The newer ones have already been bought.

11. There seems to be a great cross section of young and old in the population.

12. The weather is nice and cool though we are approaching the 4th of July.

13. The 4th of July is huge here.

14. I see flags every where.

15. The cool weather with enthusiastic patriotism make the 4th of July that is great and authentic.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thoughts on Reading Wendell Berry

Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio often speaks of Wendell Berry. I have begun to read some of the interviews referenced in the Wikipedia article on him. I was surprised the variety of topics addressed by just one man. Of course the interviewer is asking questions he or she perceives is of interest to the reader of that publication. That drives the subject matter and the tone. His assessment of Wal-mart's negative influence on American local economics may be one of the better known ideas I have heard touted often. However, I find more resonance in his thoughts on work. He describes how in days gone by small farmers produced their own food and that production helped people survive in hard times. Economic problems did not cascade into the family meals if the family produced their own food.

I actually saw this in operation as my grandparents and great-grandparents raised their own food, cut their own wood and worked to produce what they also consumed. To a lesser degree this was practiced in my own home growing up. And in a different sort of way in our homeschool family. We desired to give our daughters a Christian education but we could not afford it. So my wife has and is still producing this service, Christian education, that our family is still consuming. This sort of economic activity is not taxed in sales tax or income tax. It is not measured in the health of our economy.

Subsistence farming, producing what one consumes, lacks the prestige of a modern industrial farm. However, in the developing world if one desires to assist the poor organizations such as the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) see subsistence farming as a means to overcome poverty. It is strange that we would see that as something to do overseas but not here in our own country. I think some of my ideas on this subject may agree with Wendell Berry's.