by Martha Bayne
This year's Chicago Humanities Festival is structured around the theme "The Climate of Concern" and focuses on the multifaceted, often disastrous intersections of humankind and the natural world. In the words of artistic director Lawrence Weschler, "Suddenly the specter of global climate disruption and its many interrelated symptoms has become the media flavor of the year. . . . Still, the challenge grows clearer and more urgent with each passing week: how do we, as a community of fellow humans, come to envision--with lucidity, vigor, and hope--our responsibilities toward each other, our progeny, and the planet?"
Certain programs should be of particular interest to Food Chain readers. What's below is the tip of the iceberg; see the festival Web site for updates and more. Tickets are $5 in advance, $7 at the door--and note that while many CHF programs sell out in advance, last-minute tickets are often available due to no-shows.
On Sunday, 10/28, The Land Connection director Terra Brockman steps in for Green City Market founder Abby Mandel to discuss farming and agricultural issues, with a focus on local farm sustainability and what's known now as the regional "foodshed." It's from 1:15 to 2:15 at the Notebaert Nature Museum.
On Saturday, 11/3, there's a six-hour block of programming that may force me to pack a snack and settle in at the Chicago Temple. At noon Atlantic senior food editor Corby Kummer discusses the changing face of organic food production with Terra Brockman, food-systems analyst Ken Meter, and downstate organic farmers Dennis and Emily Wettstein. Then, at 2:30, cultural and religious historian Garry Wills unpacks the natural mysticism of Emerson and his fellow Transcendentalists as an example of an indigenous American folk art. And at 4:30 book critic Donna Seaman leads a panel on "Writing Nature," with poet W.S. Merwin, author Diane Ackerman, and author and environmental activist Terry Tempest Williams.
Last but not least, at 4 PM Saturday, 11/10, climatologist Gregory V. Jones discusses the changing face of viticulture amid global climate change. Could British Columbia be the next Napa Valley? You'll have to show up at the Alliance Francaise to find out.