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The Ethics of Enough

The Schumacher Center is pleased to announce two upcoming lecture programs: Andrew Kimbrell speaking on April 27th at 7:30 at the First Congregational Church in Great Barrington and Peter Forbes speaking on May 24th at 7:30 at the First Congregational Church in Great Barrington..

Andrew Kimbrell is a public interest lawyer effectively challenging government agencies and industry on the issues of food safety and genetic engineering. He is also a concert pianist, a father, and a practicing Catholic. At his October 2000 E. F. Schumacher Lecture he told the audience that when he asks himself what are the causes of today’s most pressing problems—the threat to our biosphere, the disintegration of community, the emptying of our children of all meaning—the answer is not the traditional evils of the passions as denounced from the pulpit. In fact very kind and well-meaning people are complicit in bringing about these problems. Kimbrell identifies the cold, impersonal evil of technology as the culprit, a technology that distances people from the consequences of their actions and sanctions the unseen degradation of people, land, and community.

If we are going to get rid of this cold evil, we simply have to devolve our technological systems so that they are democratic, so that they can be responsive to us and we can take responsibility for them, so they comport with nature, with life forms on the earth. We simply have to do that. It was certainly Fritz Schumacher’s call and it still needs to be our vocation today. There is no other alternative.

In his April 27th Schumacher Center Lecture, Andrew Kimbrell will delve even deeper to identify the pervasiveness of technology as the source of the degradation of our spiritual nature. Identifying the distinction between the sacramental imagination and the technological imagination, he will argue that the characteristic of sacramental imagination is to accept limits—in birth, marriage, service, death. This conscious decision to recognize boundaries permits the human being to transcend his/her physical nature and reach capacities of a spiritual nature, creating a bond with all living things. The technological imagination, on the other hand, admits no limits. In so doing it denies the sacramental and delays recognition of a universal fellowship. How can we retain the gift of sacramental imagination in face of this onslaught of technology?

Please join with other Schumacher Center members on Friday, April 27th to welcome this extraordinary speaker back to the Berkshires. Tickets will be available at the door. On Saturday, April 28th Mr. Kimbrell will participate in an all-day workshop in Harlemville, New York, sponsored by several Columbia County organizations.

Last month many Schumacher friends mourned the untimely death of Donella Meadows, author, professor at Dartmouth College and founder of the Sustainability Institute. Her weekly column, “The Global Citizen,” was syndicated in area newspapers. She was a voice for our finest intentions and for the best working practices. She frequently reported on community supported agriculture, local currencies, ecologically designed housing, and on all that was small scale and decentralized.

Peter Forbes is an author and National Fellow for the Trust for Public Land. He was a close colleague of Donella Meadows and lived nearby her in New Hampshire. He credits her life as shaping a great deal of his own work in land conservation. His May 24th Schumacher Center Lecture, “Land Conservation, Civil Disobedience, and the Ethics of Enough,” will be dedicated to Donella Meadows. In his talk he will draw connections between our economic system and the destruction of the land and why we need to change culture in order to truly save land.

Peter Forbes’ talk will be co-sponsored by members of the Berkshire conservation community including: Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council, Berkshire Grown, Berkshire Natural Resource Council, The Berkshire Taconic Landscape Program of The Nature Conservancy, Caretaker Farm, Center for Ecological Technology, Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires, Egremont Land Trust, Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk, Great Barrington Land Conservancy, Housatonic River Restoration, Housatonic Valley Association, Indian Line Farm, Monterey Preservation Land Trust, The Orion Society, Sheffield Land Trust, Stockbridge Land Trust, Trustees of Reservations, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, and the Wise Women Sustainability Circle.

The Schumacher Center is able to offer these quality events because of the generous contributions of its members. If you have not renewed your support for this year, please do so. We look forward to seeing you at our spring lecture events.