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Happy Birthday, Front Porch Republic

Bill Kauffman at Front Porch Republic

In the beginning there was Wendell Berry.

The seed—well, a seed—from which Front Porch Republic sprouted was an October 2003 Liberty Fund conference in Savannah, Georgia, dedicated to the thought of the Kentucky poet-farmer-novelist-essayist-prophet.

All was collegial and bibulous—with Jeremy Beer and Jason Peters on hand how could it be otherwise?—until one of the final sessions, when a pleasant woman, an academic who was, shall we say, not in complete alignment with the Berry-lovers around the table, opined that Berry Road led straight to the Khmer Rouge.

Talk about a trigger!

Many things, among them friendship and a few books—but no replay of the Cambodian genocide, thank God–grew from that weekend in Savannah. One offshoot was a March 2007 conference on “Liberty, Community, and Place” held in Charlottesville, Virginia, and sponsored by ISI, which is to say the independent-minded Jeremy Beer. The ghost of the late-onset radical decentralist Thomas Jefferson, he of the ward republics, perfused the air, as new friendships formed and existing ones deepened.

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It Started with a Dis... - Front Porch Republic
The Empire did not fall the day Front Porch Republic rose. But in 15 years FPR has done much more than simply add weight to the human scale. It has revivified the most humane and practical traditions in American social, cultural, economic, and political life and thought.