“We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” - Aldo Leopold
Aldo Leopold and his seminal work, A Sand County Almanac, have influenced conservationists, environmentalists, and scientists for many decades, but The Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time is the first feature length film on Leopold and the evolution of his own thinking. The Green Fire covers Leopold's intellectual growth as he moves from child to early graduate of Yale's Forestry Management program to mature conservationist.
Produced with great alacrity and a Wisconsonian conscientious lack of fanfare, narrating scholar and conservation biologist Dr. Curt Meine has partnered with the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the Center for Humans and Nature, and the U.S. Forest Service to create this 72-minute documentary. There could never be a better moment to examine a land ethic, as our 21st-century world faces ecological challenges and encroachments unknown to previous generations.
The Green Fire brings context to Leopold's words with historical photos, event chronology, and interviews with his children, grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. Even Leopold experts may find new inspiration in seeing the destroyed, fallow land he acquired and made into a family project. Today the thousands of trees he and his children planted sway in gentle breezes, as busloads travel to Sand County, Wisconsin from around the world, to pay homage to a quiet revolutionary, whose name comes to mind alongside John Muir and Henry David Thoreau's.
“Aldo Leopold’s legacy lives on today in the work of people and organizations across the nation and around the world,” said Aldo Leopold Foundation Executive Director, Buddy Huffaker. “What is exciting about Green Fire is that it is more than just a documentary about Aldo Leopold; it also explores the influence his ideas have had in shaping the conservation movement as we know it today, by highlighting some really inspiring people and organizations doing great work to connect people and the natural world in ways that even Leopold might not have imagined.”
The phenological records — studies of periodic plant and animal life-cycle events that are influenced by climate and seasonal change in the environment — that Leopold began in 1936 at the Leopold shack and farm have been continued by his daughter, Estella. Estella is Aldo Leopold's youngest daughter and, at age 84, received the prestigious International Cosmos Prize for her lifetime achievements in conservation. These methodical records document place-specific changes in seasons, climate, and migration patterns.
Seeing this film brings new significance to Leopold's remarkable essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain.” Viewers are taken to visit the places that inspired, transformed, and nudged Leopold’s doctrine into its current form. An idea that ties the concept of a land ethic to each of us — from inner city youth to conservationists in Mexican jungles — leaving its viewers with a sense of ethics and a feeling of connection that still offers hope and invites action.
If you go: Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time at the Neptune Theatre, Oct. 18, 7 pm. Tickets are $5 General Public, free to UW students and Burke Members with RSVP. To purchase tickets go to Seattle Theatre Group (service charges apply). Green Fire is also a selected film for Bioneers Moving Image Festival. Learn more at Bioneers.org.
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