The word ‘history’ was used a lot on Monday evening at St. Catharine Hall.
I think I’m correct when I predict that the word was used fittingly.
On Monday, a partnership was officially formed between St. Catharine College and The Berry Center.
The Berry Center is based on supporting sustainable agriculture.
You may have heard of one of the Berry’s.
His name is Wendell. He’s an internationally-known author.
If you haven’t heard of him before, you will certainly hear a lot about him in the coming years.
I first learned of Mr. Berry as a high school student.
I worked in a book store in Bardstown and became familiar with his work soon after.
There are several books by Berry on my shelf at home, as well.
I know enough to know who Mr. Berry is, and I am familiar with his work, but I’d hate to try to act like I know what he’s all about.
His work is extensive.
Out of this new partnership, an academic degree will be offered.
But also out of this partnership, as audience members were told at a press conference Monday, will also come a way of life on the St. Catharine College campus.
The Berry Center philosophy and teachings will be woven into the fabric of daily life, for students who are participating in the program and students who may be there for other degrees.
We have all watched St. Catharine grow in the last several years.
I think this will launch the school into another stratosphere.
When your school has been picked to host a program that schools all over the state and country clamored to land, you can assume you’re doing something right.
What does this mean for Springfield and Washington County, though? Why should we care?
In my limited perspective, I see lots of reasons to care.
For one, Wendell Berry is internationally-known. People from all over the world will want to come to St. Catharine College’s campus to check out the program.
Number two, people all over want to farm by the practices and philosophies that Berry outlines.
Now, they can add a college degree program to the wealth of knowledge gleaned from the volumes that Berry has written.
The program doesn’t only apply to those who want to farm.
It also applies to those who simply want to understand or learn more about sustainable agriculture and agrarianism.
If a model farm is set up according to practices that Berry uses, people will want to come around to see it in action.
They may not want to spend the time and expense on a degree, but maybe they want to hang out for a week and see what they can take back to their own farms.
The possibilities, in my mind, are limitless.
The notion I can’t shake, however, is how this all fits in to what I’ve learned about Washington County in the last year.
One of the first signs you see when you pull into Washington County from Marion County is “A Certified Clean County.”
OK, these folks obviously value the environment here, or at least strive to.
One of the next things I learned about was the New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future organization.
As the group’s name states, they are very much into sustaining the environment.
Next, I’ve noticed an abundance of programs to promote the local-food movement. The folks at the Washington County Cooperative Extension office are often having programs to help buyers meet growers.
Another thing I’ve noticed about the county is the pride taken in the regional recycling center.
Recycling seems to be a priority here.
Another obvious observation is that of growth in this area.
We are either still in or coming out of the worst economy of my lifetime.
Yet, the city has grown in the last year by beginning to restore the Robertson building.
St. Catharine College has grown in many ways, most notably by adding a graduate program, a library and now this.
This is a place where things are happening.
I’m proud to work here. I’m proud to bring you the first draft of this exciting time in history.
However, I think this is the beginning of something very special.
The implications of this new academic program are beyond my scope of imaginiation.
I do, however, believe it will benefit those of us locally, on the state level and as far as worldwide.
Be proud that you live in a place where people care about preserving the past and sustaining the future.
Taking care of our corner of the world can only lead to good things.