PEOPLE, LAND, AND COMMUNITY by Hildegarde Hannum


Collected E.F. Schumacher Society Lectures
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 An outstanding collection of talks devoted to the late economist E.F. Schumacher's ``small is beautiful'' ethic. Founded in 1981 by the environmental writer David Ehrenfeld and others, the E.F. Schumacher Society has sponsored some 40 lectures by noted scholars and thinkers on problems of land use, agriculture, urban planning, and other eminently practical fields. The 21 lectures gathered here by Hannum, a board member of the society, address Schumacher's call for small-scale economies and polities, a call that the Kentucky farmer-poet Wendell Berry, for one, has made his own; Berry's talk, on the need for local production and local consumption, provides the title for the collection. Other high points are Robert Swann and Susan Witt's ingenious discussion of local currencies, in which cities like Ithaca, N.Y., issue scrip to buy local goods and services, drawing on a barter pool of talent and material; and the book's afterword, by the young scholar Benjamin Strauss, on bringing notions of stewardship and land reform to Generation Xers, who seem prime candidates for the environmental crusade. As Strauss notes, this generation volunteers more time for social causes than any other age cohort of the last 30 years. Francis Moore LappÇ discusses, with her customary commonsensical approach, problems of world hunger; David Ehrenfeld examines why university bureaucracies are hostile to small-scale research projects (they don't generate enough overhead funds, Ehrenfeld writes, and thus fail to fuel what he calls a system that has no ``negative feedback''); and Stephanie Mills looks at the problems of restoring damaged lands to something like their original state. Many of these lectures went on to spawn books, among them Cities and the Wealth of Nations by Jane Jacobs and The Conquest of Paradise by Kirkpatrick Sale. For environmentalists, regional planners, and interested lay readers, this book contains abundant food for thought.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-300-06966-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997