Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Invitation to Aldo Leopold planning discussions

Next year, 2009, marks the centennial of Aldo Leopold’s arrival in the Southwest. In addition, 2009 is the 100th anniversary of Leopold’s “wolf-shooting” incident, a seminal moment in environmental history, described in the essay “Thinking Like a Mountain,” a cornerstone of A Sand County Almanac. That event took place on a mountain near Springerville, Arizona. We are sharing plans and asking for ideas to help develop grassroots events observing Leopold’s role in the Southwest. Numerous organizations are collaborating to call attention to the past, present, and, most vitally, the future of the Leopold legacy: an ethical relationship with the land and the ways in which this relationship helps us meet the challenges of conservation in the 21st century. The Leopold legacy in the Southwest includes the contributions of his wife, Estella Luna Bergere of New Mexico, and two of their five children, Luna and Starker, scientists who have done keystone work on Southwestern water and wildlife.

A two-hour documentary about Leopold is being produced for 2009, and New Mexico groups are well along in developing a year-long series of conferences, exhibits, field trips, symposia, and products. We are holding three meetings for interested individuals in Arizona to plan complementary events in this state. What makes Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac so rich is that it pulls together many different disciplines: philosophy, ecology, history, and literature, among them. That variety suggests many opportunities to create partnerships and community collaborations. In addition, the Hispanic connection provided by Estella’s family, as well as the work of the Leopold children, expands the potential and significance even more widely. There are many unexplored opportunities; we’re hopeful that collective efforts can bring them to fruition.

The Aldo Leopold Foundation has also expressed interest in assisting our efforts. We plan to meet in Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson, to gather people with ideas and collaborative interests. Each session will begin at 2 p.m. and last approximately two hours:
  • March 17: Flagstaff, NAU Cline Library, Room 200
  • March 18: Phoenix, Pueblo Grande Museum, 4619 E. Washington Street
  • March 19: Tucson, Federal Building, Room 1K, 300 W. Congress Street

Can you join us? At this meeting we will list possible and planned activities, explore their overlap with other plans in the Southwest, consider timelines and possible funding sources, and explore potential partnerships, action items, and marketing ideas. Projects underway or being considered include: teacher institutes, a statewide reading program, watershed restorations, a gubernatorial proclamation, conferences, documentaries, a speakers bureau, and lecture series. Please contact Dan Shilling ( to let us know if you or a representative can attend, or if not, how you might participate in other ways. If you have questions, call Dan at 602-300-6694.

Gary Paul Nabhan, NAU Center for Sustainable Environments
Rita Cantu, U.S. Forest Service
Dan Shilling, ASU Institute for Humanities, Fellow 07-08