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“The years pass and they grow into centuries. We see more clearly. We are to take a new hold.” -L. H. Bailey, The Holy Earth (1915)
How will we take a “new hold” on Bailey’s vision today? How do we take hold of it, but in a new way, moving beyond the historical corpus of work and into a twenty-first century movement for rural health, inclusive community, sustainable practice, ecological resilience, and civic democracy?
The Liberty Hyde Bailey Center exists right now only as an evolving draft proposal, currently in the development and conversation phase. Here is a part of our working vision, subject to change:
We propose to establish a Liberty Hyde Bailey Center in Ithaca, New York, to be housed in the historic craftsman-style home and herbarium building once owned by Liberty Hyde Bailey, located halfway between the Cornell University campus and downtown Ithaca on Sage Place. Inspired but not limited by Bailey’s prophetic, biocentric vision of sustainability and agrarian democracy, the center would organize and host a variety of forward-looking projects and programs about and with diverse rural communities and landscapes, in and beyond upstate New York. It would explore their challenges and possibilities—in their own right and in relation to urban centers—through public-facing scholarship, pedagogy, and community building. By providing a platform for public dialogue and engaged learning and research centered on rural land, communities, and cultures, it would build channels for mutual discourse and collaboration between Cornell University and a variety of publics. Recognizing a mandate to critically engage differences associated with socioeconomic markers such as race, class, gender identity, nationality, and religion, it would devote itself to engaging the rural in all of its complex social as well as ecological and economic diversity. Rural spaces have often been sites of oppression as well as possibility. The Bailey Center will seek to engage and be led by marginalized voices and communities in its work, including Latinx, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and working class communities, around issues ranging from reparations to collective land stewardship, from food and land sovereignty to the economic disparities and injustices that the private ownership of land has so often produced.
If this sounds interesting to you, please reach out to us. We are looking for partners and hope you will consider being part of the conversation.