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.”