Dr. Özdag is Founding Member and Director of the Turkish Land Ethic Center at Hacettepe University's Beytepe Campus (a green area with rich flora & fauna) just outside Ankara. The Center was inspired by A Sand County Almanac and the Aldo Leopold Foundation's guidance. Ufuk's plan is to initiate the Leopold Education Project in this Center, adapting it to the Turkish needs. She also hopes that the Center will trigger Turkish volunteers and naturalists to restore a tract of worn out land. Ufuk says they "are very excited to see what is possible for land that has been used recklessly for thousands of years." Their project follows the example set by Aldo Leopold in the 1930's at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum (Curtis Prairie) and restoration at the Leopold family's old farm retreat near Baraboo, Wisconsin -- The Shack.
At Hacettepe University in Ankara, Ufuk Özdag, Ph.D. is professor of American Culture and Literature. She teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate level on American Literature, Culture and the Arts, and also Literature and Environment. Her other books include: Introduction to Environmental Criticism: Nature, Culture, Literature, and she is co-editor of The Future of Ecocriticism: New Horizons, and Environmental Crisis and Human Costs.
Professor Özdağ is coming to Burlington directly from the "Building a Land Ethic" Conference in Baraboo, Wisconsin, held by the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Ufuk will be with us to present her perspective on the growing need for a global land ethic to guide humans in their role as a part of the biotic community. Responsible use and sustainability of the land is still a new concept in the US and around the world. Some see it in conflict with economic progress, not realizing that a balance between working landscapes, diversity and habitat restoration protects the land for future generations.
Dr. Özdag's visit to Burlington is a part of the Leopold Landscape Alliance's Researcher/Artist/Writer in Residence program. She has recently been translating more of Leopold's essays from Round River and is coming to Burlington to study the more detailed nuance found in Leopold's writing. Aldo's hometown experience in nature and with human nature surfaces in many of the essays.
Ufuk Özdag with Advisory Board member Mehmet Ekizoglu
Ufuk is particularly interested in seeing and experiencing the home grounds and tramping places that first aroused Aldo's curiosity and illuminated his perception of values. The observations and writing of his earliest experiences set the stage for all that followed.
The Starker-Leopold family stimulated the youngsters at an early age by teaching how all the humanities are connected to nature. Adventures in literature, art, music, geography and even gardening encouraged the children to seek out parallel experiences in their own expanding world. This gave the opportunity for comparison to the insights and values of the writers, artists, musicians, and naturalists they were learning about.
At the turn of the last century, Aldo's mother, Clara Starker Leopold, urged all of her children to write notes and journals about everything they experienced so the family in Burlington could stay connected with their adventures and developing ideas when they travelled out during their educations. In the case of Aldo, who they expected to follow a career in the natural sciences, this became a habit of observation and description that set a pattern for life..
Leopold continuing his journals at the Shack.
Included in the 1966 Edition of A Sand County Almanac is "Other Essays on Conservation from Round River". Within these essays are many references to his childhood experiences, some obvious and some not so much. Ufuk's most recent translations have the task of interpreting Leopold's lyrical style and his sometimes not so evident underlying meaning. Here is a sampling of Aldo's thinking and writing found among the Round River essays -- expressing his thoughtful values found in nature.
In the forward to the 1966 edition of ASCA, Leopold presents his central idea, "That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. That land yields a cultural harvest is a fact long known, but latterly often forgotten."
There is much confusion between land and country. Land is the place where corn, gullies and mortgages grow. Country is the personality of the land, the collective harmony of its soil, life, and weather. Country knows no mortgages, no alphabetical agencies; it is calmly aloof to petty exigencies of its alleged owners. -- "Country"
In searching for that special "something" found in nature, Aldo asked, Have we made any headway in developing 'a refined taste in natural objects'? -- "The Round River
Poets sing and hunters scale the mountains for primarily one and the same reason--the thrill to beauty. Critics write and hunters outwit their game for primarily one and the same reason - to reduce that beauty to possession. The differences are largely matters of degree, consciousness, and that sly arbiter of the classification of human activities, language. If, then, we can live without goose music, we may as well do away with the stars, or sunsets, or Iliads. But the point is that we would be fools to do away with any of them. -- "Goose Music"
I think we have here the root of the problem. What conservation education must build is an ethical underpinning for land economics and a universal curiosity to understand the land mechanism. Conservation may then follow. -- "The Round River"
The common denominator of all hunters is the realization that there is always something to hunt. The world teems with creatures, processes, and events that are trying to elude you. Every ground is a hunting ground, whether it lies between you and the curbstone, or in the illimitable woods where rolls the Oregon. The final test of the hunter is whether he is keen to go hunting in a vacant lot. -- "The Deer Swath"
There are yet many (children) to be born who, like Isaiah, 'may see and know that the hand of the Lord has done this.' But where shall they see, and know, and consider? In museums? -- "Goose Music"
Aldo Leopold grew up in Burlington, but each summer he and his family spent two months at the Les Cheneaux Club on Marquette Island in Northern Lake Huron. Aldo's father Carl served as President of the Club and was the club's golf champion, while Aldo spent most of his time hunting in the woods, fishing and sailing. The Leopold family's life in Michigan in the summers between 1890 and 1914 was described using family pictures taken in Burlington and at the Les Cheneaux Club by members of the Leopold family.
The program was presented by current President of the Les Cheneaux Club, the Rev. Charles Fels, our guest speaker. Rev. Fels was Assistant US Attorney and Assistant District Attorney at Knoxville, Tennessee. His family first visited Les Cheneaux in 1920 and knew Aldo's mother, Clara Leopold, and his sister, Marie Leopold Lord.
Iowa Wesleyan College, Mt. Pleasant, sponsored by the new Henry County Sustainable Farmers & Friends, March 31, 2016
VintageFest, Capitol Theater, Downtown Partners, Burlington, July 16, 2016
Muscatine Branching Out, Palms Theatre, Muscatine, August 20, 2016
Pictured above is the “Prairie Quilt” created by teacher Lisa Gruver and her students in the Macomb, IL School District. These 4th, 5th & 6th graders designed and painted four quilts: the Rain Forest, the Prairie, the Oak Woods-Savannah, and the Rivers & Streams.
Before moving to Macomb, Lisa worked in Costa Rica with students on environmental education projects concerning the threatened Monteverde Cloud Forest. When she started teaching in Macomb, she brought the rain forest idea along, and started working on the first quilt with students.
In the process, the teachers realized that the kids did not know the “nature” of their own homeland. So, to help them appreciate their local landscape, they selected the prairie as the second quilt subject.
The mission of the project is to “sew partners together to help kids understand the interconnection between people and the natural world around them and to protect or restore native habitats at home and abroad.”
Lisa was a founding board member of the Prairie Land Conservancy of Macomb, which includes Henderson County across the Mississippi from Burlington. Henderson County was very important in Leopold’s life, and continues as a part of our local nature.
Lisa studied Aldo Leopold. The tall yellow flower in the middle of the prairie quilt is a compass plant, a favorite of Aldo’s. It is with these connections in mind that the PLC has loaned the quilts to Burlington.
As PLC grows northward toward Burlington, we hope to work together, conserving prairie-black jack oak savannah and bottomland timber.
We thank the Prairie Land Conservancy for loaning the Quilts to us. They have been on display in the Leopold House and have stimulated much conversation about Leopold's influence on today's youth.