The Prairie Festival – September 26-28, 2014

September 26, 2014 to September 28, 2014

Online registration is now closed.

We hope you were able to join us for the 2014 festival. We'll post details about the 2015 festival as they are determined.

The three-day Prairie Festival, dubbed an “intellectual hootenanny,” is slated for Sept. 26-28, 2014, at the Big Barn at the The Land Institute’s headquarters southeast of Salina.

The weekend begins with a barn dance and bonfire on Friday evening, which is followed by stimulating talks on Saturday and Sunday morning. Also on tap is the annual Saturday evening open-air dinner featuring bison stew, an art exhibit by noted Lindsborg painter Mary Kay, and concerts by singer/songwriters Chuck Pyle of Colorado, who is known as the Zen Cowboy, and Ann Zimmerman, a hometown favorite.

On Sunday morning, you can join a sunrise yoga session.

The festival speakers, who spark intellectual stimulus, are at the heart of the event. The detailed schedule of events is here.

Back by popular demand will be our own researchers, offering an update on research progress and our increased intellectual influence toward ecological intensification in agriculture. Besides their presentation in the Big Barn, our scientists will conduct tours of their plant breeding plots.

This year’s lineup for other Prairie Festival speakers deserves explanation. Dr. Ted Burk did his Ph.D. at Oxford under the direction of Richard Dawkins, a biologist made famous with his evangelical defense of and call to atheism. Dr. Ellen Davis, a Duke professor formerly at Yale, is a student of the Old Testament. Bob Jensen, journalism professor at the University of Texas, Austin, is a student of controversy. He has written extensively about social conflict and the exchange of unpopular ideas.

Priti Cox was born and raised in India and has raised alarms over the human and ecological toll taken by Hindu fundamentalism and casteism. Bill Vitek is a philosopher who has studied the teachings of the process philosopher Alfred North Whitehead.

Kristine Tompkins is more responsible for raising money to save wild diversity than any woman alive. This is being done in Chile and Argentina. She, along with her husband, Doug, has “saved” over 2.2 million acres. Virtually all their conservation land is destined to become up to eight national parks.

Finally, there is Dr. Ken Levy-Church. Ken is a student of Russian history and will speak on the crisis in Eastern Europe today.

So there you have it: atheism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Whiteheadian process theology, conservation, and a scholar who has studied some of the roots of Eastern Europe conflict. Atheism, religion, conservation, agrarianism, philosophy. Five themes — all active within an ecosphere that is heating up, overpopulated, destroying wild diversity. But the festival isn’t all weighty. The barn dance on Friday evening is a long tradition, as is the bonfire. But for the past couple of years the bonfire has been inside the Hedge Fire Circle, a new art installation on the festival grounds. That’s also the home for a Sunday morning yoga session, so bring your yoga mat.

The Prairie Festival is laid back and relaxed. More than a few in the crowd camp in one of our two impromptu prairie campgrounds (we move the bison and longhorn cattle to the opposite side of the fence). Other guests book rooms in local hotels; we’re only about 4 miles from Salina, a city of 48,000.

We don’t have fast food restaurants in our corner of the prairie but Prairieland Foods, a local food cooperative, serves healthy Saturday lunch fare and snacks in our Red Barn.

Click the button to register online. And check our “Visit the Land” page for more information. If you have questions, call The Land Institute office at (785) 823-5376 or send email to us at info@landinstitute.org.

Prairie Festival Speaker List

Our Scientists: They will talk about their work and progress in developing perennial crops that will reshape the future of agriculture.

Bill Vitek, who teaches philosophy at Clarkson University in New York, says “food and philosophy go together if we’re talking about transformation.” He will deliver the Strachan Donnelley Lecture on Conservation and Restoration.

Ellen Davis, who teaches at Duke Divinity School, says the Bible can benefit both the churched and the unchurched as we recognize that although we can manipulate and change the world, we cannot control it.

Ted Burk, chair of the Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences Department at Creighton University, says believers and nonbelievers can arrive at the same ethic for how we behave toward the land.

Robert Jensen says that if we rescue the Book of Revelation from the rapture-seekers and the end-timers, we will find the apocalyptic tradition useful in our quest to face honestly the multiple, cascading ecological crises of our historical moment. Like it or not, we are all apocalyptic now, and recognizing that helps us understand our place and shape our work.

Kenneth Levy-Church, New York philanthropist and an authority on Russian history, will talk of the crisis in Eastern Europe today and focus on this question: Why do “they” hate us?

Priti Gulati Cox, a native of India, is an artist whose continuing project, Vanishing India, reveals the effects of corporate globalization on the social, political and economic fabric.

Kristine McDivitt Tompkins is a conservationist and former CEO of Patagonia Inc. She and her husband, Douglas Tompkins, have worked to create national parks in Chile and Argentina, protecting more than 2.2 million acres.

Wes Jackson, founder and president of The Land Institute, will close the festival with his talk, titled “The Need for a Eutopian Novel.”

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