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This past weekend, 30 Hillsdale stu­dents had the oppor­tunity to hear cel­e­brated nov­elist and activist Wendell Berry speak at the fourth annual Front Porch Republic con­ference in Louisville, Ken­tucky.

The con­ference is held every year at various loca­tions across America to “examine ways to promote a more com­pre­hensive localist vision,” according to the Front Porch Republic website.

“[Berry] doesn’t give that many public appear­ances,” said senior David Roach, who attended the con­ference. “So it was really inter­esting to hear him speak.”

“It was great to hear various responses to our very Hills­dalean ques­tions con­cerning the problem of modernity,” junior Aaron Schreck said.

The Front Porch Republic is an orga­ni­zation that claims its overall purpose is to raise awareness of the localist vision. Accord­ingly, Berry was brought in on Sat­urday to read some of his essays and answer ques­tions about localism.

“This might be the only time I’ll have the chance to read a pro­lific author and then see him speak in person,” junior Matt Sauer said. “The way [Berry] ended his speech when he said not to worry about under­standing every­thing, that it’s enough to just live [with what we have], that really struck me.”

Other speakers were also present at the con­ference, and among those who impacted the stu­dents were Justin Litke and Susannah Black.

“I had just read Dr. Gamble’s ‘In Search of a City on a Hill, ‘so I knew exactly what history [Litke] was ref­er­encing in his speech about American excep­tion­alism, and I really liked that,” Sauer said.

Junior Forester McClatchey  attended the con­ference because he “wanted to hear what an ancient man had to say about sus­tainable farming and pre­serving local culture” enjoyed the weekend’s diversity.

“Everyone was talking about the loss of the agrarian way of life and the destructive force of society and Susannah, who was from Queens, gave an alternate view of pre­serving culture, an elo­quent defense of how cities can be stim­u­lating places in their own way,” he said.

When asked if he would rec­ommend this con­ference to anyone who could attend in the future, McClatchey said yes.

“Totes. It made me want to be friends with donkeys that farm my field.”