Thursday, September 23, 2010

Something's going on in Nazareth...

...and I think it's a good thing. My colleague Kurt Caswell and I were invited up to the tiny panhandle town last week to man a booth touting the Natural History and Humanities degree program. The occasion was a day-long event for regional high school students to encourage them to think about colleges and careers. It was organized and hosted by the Ogallala Commons, a non-profit community development network devoted to, among other things, the sustainability of the Southern High Plains. The Ogallala Commons is headed up by one Dr. Darryl Birkenfeld, former priest, seen here, showing off his personal organic garden:

And cistern full of rainwater:

And solar panels:

And beautiful, environmentally sensitive prairie home that he and his wife would like to donate one day to the Commons as a teaching facility:

Here's the thing about Darryl: he's related to Alan Birkenfeld, who runs PaiDom Meats up in Nazareth. Y'all remember PaiDom, right? The sustainably grown, grass-fed, pasture-raised, humanely treated farm animals? The meat that I buy, along with others once a month here in LBB, in the parking lot of Sutherland's Hardware?

In the photo at the top, Darryl is showing me some of the organic soil he uses, which is produced by a brother's company, Soil Mender.

At lunch (hamburgers, provided by PaiDom) I sat next to a very nice group of young men, and since it was "career day," I asked each of them what he intended to do when he got out of college. One of them said he was going into the family business. I asked what that was.

He said, "Soil Mender."

That's when I looked at his name tag. His last name was "Birkenfeld."

Darryl is the uncle second cousin of a former student of mine*, Erin Hoelting. Erin is currently in Zambia,  working for the Peace Corps. Apparently, there are a lot of Hoeltings up in Nazareth, too.

Here's what I want to know: what are they putting in the water up there to produce such a fine community of people?

*Editorial correction


  1. Looks like a beautiful day on the prairie, too.

  2. Sounds more like a case of exceptionally good breeding to me.

  3. I believe in the old concept of if you expose the young to good examples and promote by example of giving back as you receive then you tend to create young who expect the same from their self.

    great story

  4. Sometimes it just takes one special person and it kinda happens. A bit like a stone being thrown into a pool...

  5. I guess this is not the first man from Nazereth trying to change the world.

  6. Great photos from Casa La Entereza, and thanks for the attention to our village of Nazareth! Actually, Erin is my 2nd cousin, but I would be honored to be her uncle.

  7. Elizabeth--It was.

    Helen--you're probably right.

    David--True enough.

    VP--It's a good idea to hold onto.


    Darryl--Thanks for checking in! I'll make a note about Erin being a second cousin.


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