Friends tell one another a story, and the story invites the friend into its own world. Here’s mine: last year Kris and I decided to have a garage built. (We had lived here for about 20 years without one; it was time.) So, we called in a garage builder, and he got things rolling.
The first thing I learned about when he began to contact the village officialcrats was what Bob, our garage guy, called “impervious coverage.” We had a long driveway. Impervious coverage is concerned with too much cement and not enough green space on the property. So, we had to have a new plan that reconfigured everything so our driveway was not so long and so that we had more green grass … eventually we found ourselves opening a garage and getting into a car not swamped by snow.
Now to Wendell Berry’s Citizenship Papers. Berry, so I imagine, might be quite happy with laws about impervious coverage. I’m not Dark Green, but I’m light green and I thought this was a good principle.
Berry is known for his commitment to work being shaped by location — protecting the land — and for his “agrarian argument.” Essentially here it is: “we humans can escape neither our dependence on nature nor our responsibility to nature.”
Now stop right here for a question that pesters me whenever I read Wendell Berry: What should I do to live more like this? What do you do to live more in tune with the “agrarian argument”? Tell me the truth, are you doing anything about this? What are some practical steps we can do to live out dependence on nature and responsibility to nature?
Berry contends that industrialism is “based squarely upon the principle of violence toward everything on which it depends … violence toward nature, human communities, traditional agri-cultures, and local economies …”