Whether you know the story of Aldo Leopold or not, it’s very likely that at one point in your life or another — especially if you’re from Wisconsin — you’ve heard his name. Perhaps you’ve even read one of his books. If neither, then the film “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold & a Legacy for Our Time” is an excellent way to introduce yourself. Don’t be shy, but do expect a wonderful first impression. Green Fire debuted in Milwaukee on March 2nd, at which a dozen “Kubala Washatkons” and our guests attended the event in high spirits.
Having only begun to hear of Aldo Leopold towards the end of my college years via sustainable design courses, I would say that I’m rather new to this historic — and still very contemporary — figure. In much the same way that I was introduced to Christopher Alexander once I started at TKWA, so have I become acquainted with Leopold. And like Alexander’s teachings, it became very apparent to me when I started with the studio 3-1/2 years ago how engrained Leopold’s teachings are in our work and philosophy as well, which I fully embraced without effort.
Leopold’s overarching message was that without land — which includes soils, water, plants & animals — there is no economy, no people. Our relationships with the land are entwined with our relationships to each other. By understanding and caring for the land, we in turn care for each other.
In general, we as a people have yet to catch up with Leopold’s Land Ethic and his deep, simple truths that are continuously evolving. The ways in which he helped shape and propel the conservation and environmental movement is profound, and his influence endures. The premiere of the Green Fire documentary is timely, as more and more people are beginning to realize that the boundaries of one’s community extend beyond property lines and city lines, and that our economy is only as good as the health of our ecosystems.
Having the invaluable benefit of growing up on a farm in Northeastern Wisconsin and enjoying the freedom of immersing myself in nature, Green Fire undoubtedly struck a chord close to home. Experiencing this film was one more strike of the hammer to the nail. While I may not know the implications now, there is no doubt that Leopold’s work has and will continue to influence my own work and philosophy. Surely, everyone in that audience walked away with even the slightest spark of green fire in their eyes.