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Stop 15: Living a Land Ethic

Thank you for taking the Leopold Shack and Farm self-guided tour! Continue your exploration of the land ethic through the words of contemporary voices in conservation, environmental philosophy, and human-land connections.

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Above images, left to right: Wangari Maathai (photo by John Mathew Smith), Wendell Berry (photo by guy Mendes), Vandana Shiva (photo by Augustus Binu), Robin Wall Kimmerer (photo by Dale Kakkak), J. Drew Lanham (photo: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation).

Below you will find quotes, highlights from past Leopold Week speakers, and tips for living your own land ethic.

“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation is all its diversity, beauty and wonder. Recognizing that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come.” Wangari Maathai (1940-2011), Kenyan social, political, and environmental activist, founder of the Green Belt Movement, and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

“…a society cannot do for its people what it will not do for its land, and vice versa. A society willing to abuse its land will abuse its people, and vice versa.” from The Need to Be Whole: Patriotism and the History of Prejudice by Wendell Berry, American author, farmer, and environmental activist.

“Being a planetary citizen… means being conscious that we are part of the universe and of the earth. The most fundamental law is to recognize that we share the planet with other beings, and that we have a duty to care for our common home.” from Oneness vs The 1%: Shattering Illusions, Seeding Freedom by Vandana Shiva, Indian scholar, environmental activist, ecofeminist, renown food sovereignty advocate, and author of 20+ books.

“Restoring land without restoring relationship is an empty exercise. It is relationship that will ensure and relationship that will sustain the restored land. Connecting people and the landscape is as essential as establishing a proper hydrology or cleaning up contaminants. It is medicine for the Earth.” from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, author, mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

“More and more I think of land not just in remote, desolate wilderness but in inner-city parks and suburban backyards and community gardens.” from The Home place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair With Nature by J. Drew Lanham, American author, poet, conservation biologist, and 2023 MacArthur Fellow.

Insights from Leopold Week Speakers

Why Words From the Land Matter - Dr. J. Drew Lanham

Land Ethics, Social Justice, and Aldo Leopold - Drs. Curt Meine, Priscilla Ybarra, Eduardo Santana, and Lin Qi Feng

Hope Amidst Havoc - Michelle Nijhuis

Creating an Inclusive Outdoors Together - James Edward Mills

"The Seed Keeper" - Diane Wilson

How do we put thoughts into action?

There is no “right” way to connect to the land and care for our common home. And as our world becomes increasingly urbanized and technology-driven, we often have to get more creative – or return to the basics – to develop and maintain a healthy relationship with the earth. Below are some of the activities and practices that Aldo Leopold Foundation community members partake in to develop and strengthen their land ethic. How do you live a land ethic?

Check this page again in the future for updated resources!