Century Marks

Down to earth: Writer-teacher-activist Parker Palmer was leading a retreat for government officials in Washington, D.C., all of whom were motivated by an ethic of public service. One staffer from the Department of Agriculture reported that he had on his desk a controversial proposal aimed at preserving Midwest topsoil, which is disappearing rapidly due to short-sighted farming methods employed by agribusiness. This official himself had been a farmer in Iowa for a quarter of a century, and was sympathetic to the bill, though his superior opposed it. By the end of the retreat this man decided that he had to follow his farmer’s heart and promote the proposal, come what may. When asked how he would handle his boss, this farmer-turned-bureaucrat said the retreat had helped him remember something important: “I don’t report to my boss. I report to the land” (A Hidden Wholeness, Jossey-Bass).


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