Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Studs Terkel Centenary and Long Island Small Farm Summit

Terkel's book Working brought into
focus the lives of a number of different
types of American workers.
Click for photo credit.
Chicago is in the midst of celebrating the life of Studs Terkel.  He was born 100 years ago and lived until 2008.  A variety of events are scheduled around his centenary celebration.  You can read about them here.  

Terkel was a writer and historian who lived in Chicago.  I first became aware of him when I read his book, Working, which was published in 1974.  I think my father owned the book and I remember finding it somewhere around the house.  I distinctly remember reading it and enjoying it immensely.  The book contains a series of essays about people and their jobs.  As a teenager growing up in a small town, the book opened my eyes to the lifestyles of a number of different kinds of people and how they felt about life.  

The book didn't celebrate the rich or the unusual, but a variety of workers who were part of the American landscape in the 1970's.  I still find the themes of the book grounding.  People find value in their work and their jobs and their lives provide insight into the way our society functions.  In today's 15 minute celebrity culture and consumer driven world, it is easy to forget that there are stories all around us if we take the time to get to know people.  Terkel wrote a number of other interesting books (particularly Hard Times his oral history of the Great Depression) and hosted a well-regarded radio show.  A friend of mine recently loaned me a CD of some of his more famous interviews and I enjoyed them immensely.

I think Mr. Terkel would have enjoyed the upcoming Long Island Small Farm Summit that is taking place this Saturday.  The event should prove to be fantastic.  It is bringing together a variety of leaders of the small farms and local food movement.  Long Island has a distinct local food culture and there are many opportunities for small business and jobs within the small farm economy.  To register for the event, please go to here.  Look for me at the opening session and at the Hofstra information table in the student union during the day.  Stop by and say hi!

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