Gracy Olmstead attended the FPR conference in Louisville and gives this fine description of the conference and the localist ideals animating FPR.
One elderly gentleman sat with his wife near the back of the auditorium, wearing glasses and a tweed blazer. It was only after the speakers began that I saw him there, his notebook and pen at the ready. It was Wendell Berry, the conference’s keynote speaker. I’ve not seen many keynoters show up early for conferences—and I’ve never seen one sit through the several hours of lectures before and after his speech. Yet there Berry sat: the award-winning author, poet, environmentalist, farmer, and critic, listening to speakers talk about the importance of tending to place and building community. Throughout the day testimony to Berry’s work was significant—several speakers referenced his poems and his novels Hannah Coulter and Jayber Crow. When his time came to speak, Berry told us, “I keep living to see things I’ve never expected to see. This is very moving for me.”
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