When 24-year-old Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) became the supervisor of the Carson National Forest he designed a log cabin as the first home he would share with his bride, Estella. That cabin, which the couple called Mi Casita, still stands on its original site in Tres Piedras.
Owned by the U.S. Forest Service it serves as the base for the Aldo & Estella Leopold Residency, one of three programs run by the Leopold Writing Program, a nonprofit organization with a mission to "inspire an ethic of caring for our planet by cultivating diverse voices through the spoken and written word."
The Leopold Writing Program carries on the legacy of Aldo Leopold, who is known by many as the father of the fields of wildlife management and wildlife ecology, and the author of "A Sand County Almanac," which has sold more than two million copies worldwide.
Each year, since 2012, the Aldo & Estella Leopold Residency has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and invited 1-2 writers to live at Mi Casita for up to a month. During their stay the writers work on a project that relates to the work of Aldo Leopold.
The Leopold Writing Programs' website leopoldwritingprogram.org states the Aldo & Estella Leopold Residency "provides a space for writers and respected thinkers interested in reshaping the cultural story about the relationship between humans and Nature."
Eve Bratman, PhD, and Sarah Dimick, PhD, have been selected as the 2021 residents of the Aldo & Estella Leopold Residency. According to Jeff Pappas, PhD, Drs. Bratman and Dimick were selected from a pool of 30 applicants. Pappas serves on the Leopold Writing Program's board of directors and is responsible for coordinating the Aldo and Estella Leopold Residency. Pappas explained that one of the criteria measures used in ranking each applicant is "how creatively each proposal integrates Leopold and his work into the proposal."
Dr. Eve Bratman is the author of numerous scholarly journal articles and the book, "Governing the Rainforest: Sustainable Development Politics in the Brazilian Amazon" published by Oxford University Press in 2019. She is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Earth & Environment at Franklin & Marshall College. Dr. Bratman will stay at Mi Casita for the month of June to work on her book manuscript tentatively titled "Pollen Nation," which focuses on the crisis of extinction facing many of the world's pollinators.
"Between the mountain views, open space, and the inspiration of Aldo Leopold's legacy, I'm hard pressed to think of a more inspiring place to write and work on this book," wrote Dr. Bratman in an email correspondence with Tempo.
"With pollinator protections, the mainstream narratives have two problems that Leopold's land ethic helps us to think through," Dr. Bratman noted. "First, when most people talk about saving bees, the narratives we use tend to center individual-level responsibility for creating and then solving the crisis facing bees.
"It's understandable for any individual to want to take action, but it's important to remember that it's not a single person's decision to buy local honey or become a beekeeper that's going to change the world. Those are nice actions to take, sure, but they don't help much to protect land and resources for the rest of the pollinators, upon whom the health of whole ecosystems depend.
"Second, the most common explanations for saving bees problematically center honey bees as being at risk, when in fact the challenge is far, far greater for the over 4,000 native bees of North America and the rest of the world," continued Dr. Bratman. "Those other bees (and pollinators, more broadly, like butterflies, bats, hoverflies, and other bugs) go unmanaged, without beekeeper support.
"Focusing on saving honeybees in order to address pollinator losses is kind of like attempting to address climate change by focusing singularly on the polar bear. 'Pollen Nation' contends that defending a viable future for pollinators depends critically on our ability to adopt new perspectives about the importance of pollinators and to think beyond our individual backyards."
Dr. Sarah Dimick will be staying at Mi Casita during the month of July to work on her book manuscript, titled "Climate Arrhythmias," which addresses literary writing on phenology. As defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, phenology is "a branch of science dealing with the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena (such as bird migration or plant flowering)."
In her application proposal to the Aldo & Estella Leopold Residency, Dr. Dimick wrote, "As plants bloom out of season, monsoons become erratic, hibernation periods alter, migrations fail to synchronize with food supplies, and ice melt grows increasingly unpredictable, climate change produces what I term 'arrhythmias': environmental pulses experienced as disturbingly offbeat or extreme."
An Assistant Professor of English at Harvard University, Dr. Dimick began work on "Climate Arrhythmias" as a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when she studied a report co-authored by Aldo Leopold and Sara Elizabeth Jones, titled "A Phenological Record for Sauk and Dane Counties, Wisconsin, 1935-1945."
"Jones spent two years collecting phenological data in the University Arboretum while she finished her PhD in Zoology and--as she began her own scientific career at Duke University - wrote this paper with Leopold to document their observations," Dr. Dimick noted in her email correspondence with Tempo.
The handwritten letters she sent Leopold during this time, discussing her phenological interests and research, are archived in the Leopold Papers at Madison. "I was curious about Leopold's half of this correspondence, then missing from the archive."
"Jones had passed away by the time I began this work, so I reached out to Barbara Frey, Sara Elizabeth Jones' daughter," Dr. Dimick explained. "She generously searched through her mother's belongings and miraculously uncovered the letters Leopold sent Jones more than 70 years ago. I'm so grateful for Barbara's willingness to assist a curious graduate student, and it was a pleasure to work with her to place those letters in the archive."
For more information on the Leopold Writing Program visit leopoldwritingprogram.org.