Thursday, December 31, 2009

Quotable Bailey

Some things are true in spite of statistics and philosophy and tabulation. Some things we know because we know them.

Business has no divine right, any more than has rulership.

The land is never partisan.

The fences are coming down,—those crooked, crabbed fences, horse high, bull strong, hog tight, and man proof, —the fences within which one might hide and be relieved of outside obligation. When the fence would not keep the neighbor out, the devil's-lane was interposed, the no-man's-land of briers and crooked growths. Many were the histories of the old line fence.
...the destruction of human beings by human beings is of a piece with the destruction of animals and vegetation, of the disregard for the essential rights of neighbors in the use and proprietorship of the earth, and of the shameful wounding of the planet.

A man does not serve his fellow until he takes care of himself. One does not serve the neighborhood until one serves one's own family; nor does one serve a state before one serves a community; one is not a good internationalist until one is a good nationalist.

The public schools constitute an arm of governance as well as an agency of education. We are to look to the school systems, more than to any other official force or agency, to develop the feeling for service. To this end they must be of the spirit as well as of the subjectmatter; and here is their greatest likelihood of failure.

The habit of making demands rather than rendering service will shorten the reach of any class of people.

I propose a Society of the Holy Earth. Chapters and branches it may have, branches it may have, but its purpose is not to be organization and its practice is not to be the operation of parliamentary machinery . It will have nothing to ask of anybody, not even of Congress. It will not be based on profit-and-loss. It will have no schemes to float, and no propaganda. It will have few officers and many leaders. It will be controlled by a motive rather than by a constitution. The associations will be fellowships of the spirit.

All quotes from Bailey's third Background Book, Universal Service (1918)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Country School

THERE certainly will come a day
As men become simple and wise
When schools will put their books away
Till they train the hands and the eyes;
Then the school from its heart will say
In love of the winds and the skies:

I teach
The earth and soil
To them that toil,
The hill and fen
To common men
That live just here;

The plants that grow,
The winds that blow,
The streams that run
In rain and sun
Throughout the year;

The shop and mart
The craft and art,
The men to-day
The part they play
In humble sphere;

And then I lead
Thro' wood and mead
By bench and rod
Out unto God
With love and cheer.
I teach!

From, Bailey's second Background Book, Wind and Weather

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Preserving the Birth Home of L.H. Bailey

As posted in our November 14th blog, Liberty Hyde Bailey's birth site home (a National Historic Place and museum) is being historically accessed inside and out in order to uncover, rediscover and finally recover this priceless artifact. For this installment we start with the home's most noticeable feature, the arched front porch.

A popular Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum anecdote that has been bandied about by docents and trustees explained the four asymmetrical arches that grace the home's front porch as a Masonic symbol, secretly announcing to any passing Mason of the homeowner's connection to the brotherhood. While making a good story ala National Treasure there wasn't any evidence (besides the story) to support this claim. Even with pressing a museum docent further about how he new about the Masonic symbolism, he cryptically shook out the well worn trope of keeping Masonic secrets, secret. This doesn't hold water even more so now that the Masons have public radio commercials to help boost their waining numbers. Not much cloak and dagger as wishful projection. Here is what historical preservationist, Erica Pearson-Eklov uncovered for us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Living the Backgrounds of Our Life

There are two parts to the common day — the performance of the day, and the background of the day. Many of us are so submerged in the work we do and in the pride of life that the real day slips by unnoted and unknown. But there are some who part the hours now and then and let the background show through. There are others who keep the sentiments alive as an undertone and who hang all the hours of work on a golden cord, connecting everything and losing none: theirs is the full life; their backgrounds are never forgotten; and the backgrounds are the realities.
The joy of flowers is of the backgrounds. It lies deeper even than the colors, the fair fragrances, and the graces of shape. It is the joy of things growing because they must, of the essence of winds woven into a thousand forms, of a prophetic earth, and of wonderful delicateness in part and substance. The appeal is the deeper because we cannot analyze it, nor measure it by money, nor contain it in anything that we make with our hands. It is too fragile for analysis.
L.H. Bailey's, "Blossoms" 1913

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rediscovering Bailey's Background Books

Among the volumes of Liberty Hyde Bailey's work, the more personal and philosophical writings are found in the Background Books: The Philosophy of the Holy Earth. These seven books which he called his “budget of opinions,” were written, as Bailey explains, with only the authority of "a single and unattached citizen, looking on." Bailey explained that, "Out of an experience not inconsiderable grew the desire to attempt certain Background Books...the person who may have chanced to read one of the other books may understand that here is not a repetition of statements but a progression of ideas." Bailey holds true to this format where there is constant weaving of a tapestry which meditates on the sometimes forgotten panoramas of our life. Here they are for the offering, with links to the first four.
Wind and Weather (1916)

Universal Service (1918)
What is Democracy? (1918)
The Seven Stars (1923)
The Harvest: Of the Year to the Tiller of the Soil (1927)

The Garden Lover (1928)

The Holy Earth

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quoatable Bailey-Never Lose Faith In the Soil

Above all, old and young, we must never lose faith in the soil. It is the source and condition of our existence. It never grows stale and it never wears out. The earth is always young.

-L.H. Bailey, Lessons of Today

Monday, December 14, 2009

Health Care and 20th Century Agriculture Reform?

Question: What Does Health Care Reform and the condition of agriculture at the start of 20th century during Bailey's time have in common? A lot according to the New Yorker's Atul Gawande

"At the start of the twentieth century, another indispensable but unmanageably costly sector was strangling the country: agriculture. In 1900, more than forty per cent of a family’s income went to paying for food. At the same time, farming was hugely labor-intensive, tying up almost half the American workforce. We were, partly as a result, still a poor nation. Only by improving the productivity of farming could we raise our standard of living and emerge as an industrial power. We had to reduce food costs, so that families could spend money on other goods, and resources could flow to other economic sectors." See how he connects the two in: How the Senate bill would contain the cost of health care:

We Must Begin on the Earth

Every great crisis imposes special obligations on the people; and certain classes or groups of the people may be met with separate phases of the obligation. So it is said that certain very definite responsibilities now rest on the farmer because of the upset of conditions produced by the great war...When the armies shall have killed each other off, when the supplies shall have been exhausted, when the military organizations shall have tired of their vanities, when vengeance has been spent, and when society becomes ashamed of itself, then we shall begin all over again at a slow and laborious process of reconstruction; and we must begin on the earth. - (after the start of World War I)
L.H. Bailey, The Present Responsibility of the Rural People, November, 1914

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Threads of Nature Study

"But if the child chooses the material, the subject will lack continuity: what then?
Nature is not consecutive except in her periods. She puts things together in a mosaic. She has a brook and plants and toads and insects and the weather all together. Because we have put the plants in one book, the brooks in another, and the bugs in another, we have come to think that this divorce is the logical and necessary order.

If all the things mentioned above are taught, then the life of the brook will be the thread that ties them all together. It is well to introduce the pupil to a wide range of material, in order to increase his points of contact with the world."

I think there is a lot of wisdom in the above words written by Liberty H. Bailey in The Nature-Study Idea (1903) . He gives us two illustrations in order to understand the connective idea of nature study led by our children. The first is a mosaic where the pieces are fit together to make a beautiful image. The second is a thread, weaving our study together within some focus area.What a wonderful way to remind ourselves of the way our children will build a love for the natural world and its Creator. - Barbara McCoy
Read Barbara's wonderful Blog, " Handbook of Nature Study." It is filled with extensive Nature Study activities and links. Thanks Barb!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Carl G. Jung- We Need a Relationship With Nature

Like Liberty Hyde Bailey, Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung, lived in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This quote taken from a new collection of his work, The Earth Has A Soul, Jung reflects on how the changes wrought in the twentieth century had unmoored man from his instincts. His reflection strongly compliments Bailey's beliefs on land ownership and the value of the farmer.

Every man should have his own plot of land so that the instincts can come to life again. To own land is important psychologically, and there is no substitute for it. We keep forgetting that we are primates and that we have to make allowances for these primitive layers in our psyche. The farmer is still closer to these layers. In tilling the earth he moves around within a very narrow radius, but he moves on his own land.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Blogging Bailey

"I am sure that the first President of ASHS (American Society for Horticultural Science), Liberty Hyde Bailey, delivered his presentations and lectures without many visuals, and I know that he definitely was a print type of guy. I have seen a photo of Liberty Hyde Bailey sitting in his living room up in Ithaca, New York, talking and conversing with students about horticulture. Today, Liberty would be on Facebook, have a blog site, and be on YouTube showing how to prune or identify a certain plant. The art of pruning a shrub or the science behind the horticultural principles extolled by Liberty Hyde Bailey haven’t really changed, but it is how we deliver the information that has most assuredly changed. I am sure if he were alive today, he would embrace the electronic revolution. I think back on how as graduate students and young professors we used to make our presentations for the annual conference using the old blue and white slides with black tables of data on a clear background. Now we use PowerPoint and create presentations and posters that boggle one’s mind. Sometimes I believe we stand a chance of losing the 'take-home” message in the myriad of bells and whistles in a presentation."
- Excerpted from, Reflections, by ASHS President, William J. Lamont, Jr., August 2009, ASHS Newsletter.