A retreat for environmentalists

Tempo has been covering artist residences lately, so it was a natural progression to include writers as well. This cabin in Carson is one of two residencies writers can apply for here in Taos, covered in this week's magazine.

Aldo Leopold was an American author, philosopher, naturalist, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book "A Sand County Almanac"(1949). The book, published a year after his death, has sold more than two million copies.

Leopold was influential in the development of modern environmental ethics and was at the forefront of the movement for wilderness conservation. His ethics of nature and wildlife preservation had a profound impact on the environmental movement - most obviously, his ecocentric or holistic ethics regarding the land itself. He emphasized biodiversity and ecology.

Leopold married Estella Bergere of Santa Fe in 1912 and they had five children together.

The Aldo and Estella Leopold Residency provides an inspiring retreat for both distinguished and emerging writers to reflect and to create in the physical context of Leopold's "Mi Casita" in the Carson National Forest of Northern New Mexico, and in the intellectual context of land ethics.

"Our mission is to raise cultural awareness of the relevance of Aldo Leopold's ideas in addressing the pressing environmental issues of our time," says Steve Fox, a board member of the foundation.

This year's residents have been Priyanka Kumar of Santa Fe and Emily Wortman Wunder of Centennial, Colorado.

We asked Fox to tell us a little about this unique opportunity for writers.

Tell us a bit about the residency and your involvement.

I'm a board member of the Leopold Writing Program, a nonprofit founded by Anthony Anella in Albuquerque. I'm the only board member who lives in Taos, and others live in Santa Fe, Laguna Pueblo, Albuquerque and various other towns.

Tres Piedras, where the cabin is located, is only 30 minutes from my home in El Prado, and I have taken the role of being the Writing Program liaison with the residents. I'm a published writer and an instructor at UNM-Taos for the last 10 years. I have a background with SOMOS and the Taos writing community.

Where is it located in Carson?

It is located about a half-mile north of the intersection of U.S. highways 64 and 285 in Tres Piedras, set against one of the rock outcrops off the west side of 285, just past the post office.

How many residents are there at one time?

There are two residents per year, one in August or September, the other in October.

Tell us a bit more about your partnership with the Forest Service.

The U.S. Forest Service, for which Aldo Leopold worked his entire professional life, owns the cabin and maintains it, with occasional volunteer help from a former writing program board member who lives in Taos. Our partnership with the Tres Piedras Ranger Station of the Carson National Forest is that we provide the public outreach they need, through our attracting and selecting of young and midcareer environmental writers who will share their experience of working on their writing at the Leopold cabin.

Our two other public outreach programs are an annual collaboration with New Mexico teachers, a writing contest for various levels of students in schools, judged by a panel of educators and environmental scholars; and an annual lecture by a distinguished environmental thinker. Our inaugural speaker was renowned writer Barry Lopez; this year it was to be 2019 Nobel Prize winner in economics, William D. Nordhaus, an Albuquerque native, but COVID-19 forced cancellation.

In the past each resident has given a talk at the Harwood Auditorium, but since COVID we post their essays about the experience of reflecting on Aldo's revolutionary ideas of approaching nature with a sense of ethical respect, not just there for human consumption. He created the country's first wilderness designation - for the Gila country.

How can writers apply?

They apply on our website at leopoldwritingprogram.org.

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(1) comment

John Lapin

I was privileged to take a class with Luna Leopold at Berkeley years ago. What a wonderful family. Anyone having the opportunity to stay in the Leopold house should make good use of it. I am sure they will!!!!

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