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Becoming Native To This Place

Wes Jackson

Publication Year: 2014

" The New World -- this empty land dazzlingly rich in forests, soils, rainfall, and mineral wealth -- was to represent a new beginning for civilized humanity. Unfortunately, even the best of the European settlers had a stronger eye for conquest than for justice. Natives were in the way -- surplus people who must be literally displaced. Now, as ecologist West Jackson points out, descendants of those early beneficiaries of conquest find themselves the displaced persons, forced to vacate the family farmsteads and small towns of our heartland, leaving vacant the schools, churches, hardware stores, and barber shops. In a ringing cry for a changed relation to the land, Jackson urges modern Americans to become truly native to this place -- to base our culture and agriculture on nature's principles, to recycle as natural ecosystems have for millions of years. The task is more difficult now, he argues, because so much cultural information has been lost and because the ecological capital necessary to grow food in a sustainable way has been seriously eroded. Where to begin? Jackson suggests we start with those thousands of small towns and rural communities literally falling down or apart. We have no money to pay for the process and little cultural awareness to support it, but here are the places where a new generation of homecomers -- people who want to go to a place and dig in -- can become the new pioneers, operating on a set of assumptions and aspirations different from those of their ancestors. These new pioneers will have to "set up the books" for ecological community accounting. If they dig deep enough and long enough, urges Jackson, a new kind of economy will emerge. So will a rich culture with its own art and artifacts.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: Blazer Lectures


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pp. C-C1

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The necessity for social progress— economic, political, cultural, technological—has long been such a bedrock assumption in the American ethos that challenges to it have rarely been taken seriously. True, it is admitted, there are certain costs attendant upon making progress,...

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pp. xi-xii

Nothing more underscores the reality of the near endless web of interactions among my friends and colleagues than when the time comes to list my intellectual debts. That debt load is now huge, and the intellectual interest compounds more than semiannually. I have no...

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pp. 1-5

When one of my great grandfathers swept into Kansas with the white tide on May 30, 1854, the first day he and the others could legally do so, the day the Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed by Franklin Pierce, our nation had fewer than 30 million people. Had national...

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1. The Problem

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pp. 6-13

In 1992, the people of the Americas acknowledged and celebrated Spain's entrada into the New World half a millennium ago. Few remembered that half a century after that event a young crew of Spanish adventurers were dispatched into the heart of the North American continent to...

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2. Visions and Assumptions

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pp. 14-26

Wendell Berry's classic The Unsettling of America describes the sequence of conquest and settlement. Natives, not "redskins," were living on this land to which European conquerors came. From the moment these natives became "redskins," they became surplus people, the "redskin" designation validated killing them off or moving them...

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3. Science and Nature

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pp. 27-60

It is August 1968, the Tokyo Prince Hotel, the International Congress of Genetics. I am attending my first international meeting. I am a young scientist with a one-year-old Ph.D., pretty full of myself, figuring that my paper, "Introgression and the Maintenance of Karyotypic...

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4. Nature as Measure

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pp. 61-86

The argument runs like this: We have the poor and starving and we have wilderness. We can't save both. The wilderness advocate: "The poor will be with us always." Even Jesus said it. And besides, their numbers keep multiplying, we can't feed them indefinitely into their...

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5. Becoming Native to Our Places

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pp. 87-103

It seems to be a characteristic of life that no matter what the level of organization, the juvenile stage is characterized by an excess of potential energy and an inefficiency in use of that energy. This seems to be as true of the early stages of an ecosystem as of a teenager. But we...

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6. Developing the Courage of Our Convictions

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pp. 104-118

Most of our modern assumptions are so deeply rooted that either we count them as "just natural" or we have no recognition as to what they really are. A major part of that consciousness comes from being raised in a society dominated by science and its technological arrangements, most of which would not be here without the high...


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pp. 119-122

E-ISBN-13: 9780813146478
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813118468

Page Count: 136
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Blazer Lectures
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OCLC Number: 864899638
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Becoming Native To This Place

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Subject Headings

  • Environmental responsibility -- United States.
  • Environmental policy -- United States.
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