NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Thursday September 20th 2018

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Raise Your Voice – Soil & water & spirit

BY PETER MOLENAAR

From time to time, some of us venture south of Lake Street to visit the Powderhorn people. Should you turn west from Bloomington Avenue onto 35th Street, look to the right to view their lovely park. Glance left, as you approach Chicago Avenue and you will spot the old fire station which houses their neighborhood association. But, how many know that this old station houses another splendid organization?

Via a side entrance, offices of the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) can be found on the second floor. These dedicated folks believe that, in conjunction with family farmers, culturally and racially diverse rural and urban people can promote responsible stewardship of agricultural land, along with healthy food for all. To take one example, as Congress attempted to pass the 2018 farm bill, LSP was tuned in to defend the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Of course, issues regarding land stewardship have been with us for some time. It was in the mid-19th Century that Karl Marx observed: “All progress in capitalistic agriculture is a progress in the art of robbing the soil.” Yes, our Minnesota River is now so silt laden as to spoil the Mississippi’s Lake Pepin with accumulating deposits. What soil remains has become a repository for chemicals which spoil our water. “All progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time, is progress toward ruining the lasting sources of that fertility,” said Marx.

Fred Engels would then add: “Let us not flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature… for each such victory, nature takes its revenge on us.” To which Karl responded: “Nature is [the] body [through which] man’s physical and spiritual life is… linked to itself.”

Marx and Engels both argued that a sustainable society would require the “abolition of the antithesis between town and country”. For practical purposes, the Land Stewardship Project is our developing link between urban and rural existence. Indeed, the LSP gives stimulus to the progressive forces which continue to exist in the countryside.

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