Announcing: 38th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures

We are pleased to announce the 38th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures with speakers Leah Penniman and Ed Whitfield. The theme of this year’s event is “Towards a New Reconstruction: Land, Racism, and Economic Emancipation.” The talks will take place on Saturday, October 27th from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at Saint James Place in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

The 38th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of W. E. B. Du Bois, born in Great Barrington on February 23, 1868. Du Bois would become a figure of international importance—the first black man to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University, a tireless advocate for the rights of marginalized people everywhere, a founder of the Niagara Movement and the NAACP, and the author of countless influential works of scholarship.

Du Bois believed that racial justice was inseparable from economic justice and that economic inequality was the engine and not simply the consequence of a deeper social inequality. Speakers Leah Penniman and Ed Whitfield are doing work that builds on the legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois— his commitment to black economic development, cooperative structures, and fair access to land.

Penniman, co-founder of Soul Fire Farm, is working to end racism in the food system. The title of Penniman’s talk is “Farming While Black: A Legacy of Innovation and Resistance.”

Whitfield, co-founder and co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities, has written and spoken extensively on non-extractive finance, reparations, and building investment structures that support community self-determination.

Tickets for the 38th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures are on sale now for $25 and  may be purchased online here.  If you wish to purchase tickets by cash, check, or BerkShares local currency, please contact the Schumacher Center directly at (413) 528-1737 or send payment to:

Schumacher Center for a New Economics
140 Jug End Road,
Great Barrington, MA 01230

We hope you will join us on October 27th in Great Barrington.

Speakers for the 38th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures:

Leah Penniman is an educator, farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land. Penniman is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs – including farmer trainings for Black & Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for people living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system.

Penniman holds an MA in Science Education and BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University. She has been farming since 1996 and teaching since 2002. The work of Penniman and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Omega Sustainability Leadership Award, Presidential Award for Science Teaching, NYS Health Emerging Innovator Awards, and Andrew Goodman Foundation, among others. Her book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land will hit shelves in November, 2018.


Ed Whitfield is co-founder and co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC). A long time social justice activist, Ed had been involved in labor, community organizing and peace work since the late 60‘s when he was a student activist at Cornell University. He was the chairman of the Greensboro Redevelopment Commission for 9 years and formerly board chairman of Greensboro’s Triad Minority Development Corporation.

In his work with F4DC, Ed helped initiate the formation of the Southern Grassroots Economies Project (SGEP) and their annual CoopEcon conferences aimed at networking and training among people interested in developing a cooperative new economy in the US South. Ed retired after 30 years in industry before becoming involved with philanthropy. He now speaks and writes on issues of cooperatives and economic development while continuing to be interested in issues of war and peace, as well as education and social responses to racism.

He is currently helping to provide technical assistance to a group of people living in an urban food desert struggling to develop a community owned cooperative grocery store. Ed is deeply involved in conceptualizing and spreading the idea of democratic ownership and the reclamation of the commons.