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What’s Happening: A Land Ethic

Aldo Leopold

In 2004, Gov. Jim Doyle signed legislation designating the first Saturday in March as Aldo Leopold Day in Wisconsin. At Crossroads at Big Creek, our first event was  in 2007. This year, we will continue the tradition of celebrating the life and legacy of Wisconsin’s most influential ecologist/philosopher, Aldo Leopold, and to use the day for re-dedication to Leopold’s concept of a “land ethic.”   

Nancy Rafal (who at that time served as Door County Poet Laureate) suggested that Crossroads host our first Door County Aldo Leopold Day. Because so many environmentalists have been inspired by the works of this  Wisconsin writer, and because countless people read and re-read his essays to renew their commitment to the land, the idea of inviting professional actors and other volunteers to read the book aloud and to invite the community to stop by for a few minutes … for an hour….perhaps for the whole day …seemed the perfect way to share Leopold’s legacy.

Aldo Leopold Day in Door County

Since then, we have held Leopold Breakfasts. We’ve participated with our partners in conservation, The Land Trust, The Ridges Sanctuary, The Clearing, and Write-On Door County in hosting a two-day progressive Marathon Reads throughout the county. We’ve celebrated Leopold’s graduate student Fran Hamerstrom.  And Emma Toft. We’ve masked up to offer social-distanced outdoor readings. And in 2011, we hosted the Wisconsin premiere of the documentary “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time”

The screening was a memorable event. The lecture hall was filled to overflowing learners of all ages and was  a “whose who” of Door County environmental advocates and leaders. I turned to the late educator/environmentalist Carl Scholtz and commented, “It looks like we are preaching to the choir.”

“Good,” he said. “The choir needs to get together and practice from time to time.”

And that is why we re-read and reflect on “A Sand County Almanac” each March. Sometimes we in environmental field get so overwhelmed with paperwork…… grant reports, budgets, management plans…we need to pause and ponder Leopold’s words and to take a bit of time to observe the beauty and complexity of nature. This time of year, everybody needs a little inspiration. 

Celebrations at Crossroads

So we invite the community—whether  or not folks have read this short literary classic—to join us on Saturday, March 3 for a afternoon of reflection, nature observations, and a showing of the Green Fire documentary

From 1:00-4:00 Self-guided nature journaling hikes will be offered. Also starting at 1:00, selected reading from a Sand County Almanac will focus on anecdotes of Leopold’s nature observations.

At 2:00 the documentary will be screened at 2:00, and although it is free and open to the public, we expect a good turnout so are requesting reservations. And because the group size is limited, reservations will also be required for the 3:00 Guided Nature Journaling Hike.  Visit the calendar event page to RSVP.

Some members of the community will want to prepare, so for the February meeting of the Crossroads Book Club, we selected “A Sand County Almanac.” The group will gather around the fireplace and discuss the concept of a “land ethic” and how it influences current land management practices. One of the many insightful quotes from this book guides our Board of Directors in its decision making: 

“Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

Aldo Leopold

And a second quote will sound remarkably familiar to the pre-school-aged children and their caretakers who will participate in our spring session of Junior Nature Club [we still have a few openings], which will start in March. At the beginning of each class the youngsters will repeat a pledge promising “to be a friend of of Nature — the soils and the water, the plants and the animals.” Our little pledge was inspired by Leopold’s Land Ethic.

“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.”

Aldo Leopold

As always, our trails are open all day every day, free of charge. Check the Crossroads website calendar for upcoming events and details.


Upcoming Activities

Wednesday, February 28

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Crossroad Book Club: A Sand County Almanac

This month we’re discussing ”A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. Crossroads will have a few copies of the book available to borrow if needed.

Whether you have read the book yet or not, we would love for you to join us as we explore the essays and philosophies found in inspiring literary classic. Free and open to the public.  Meet around the fireplace in the Collins Learning Center, Crossroads, 2041 Michigan, Sturgeon Bay.


Friday, March 1

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Crossroads Volunteer Mixer

Interested in finding out more about volunteer opportunities at your local nature center? Whether you are simply curious or a seasoned volunteer, join us Friday to find out what’s up and coming this spring at Crossroads. This casual event is a great chance to learn about volunteering at Crossroads and meet other wonderful people who care about nature! Meet at the Collins Learning Center, Crossroads at Big Creek. 2041 Michigan


Saturday, March 2

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Aldo Leopold Day

Crossroads is celebrating the life and work of Aldo Leopold. Join us for an afternoon of reflection, nature observations, and a showing of the 2011 film: Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic of Our Time.
All events are free, but reservations are required for the documentary and the guided hike. Visit our calendar event page to save a seat and for more information.

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