What Can Gardeners Learn from Grizzly Man?

A topic I’ve been thinking about lately as I reclaim my garden from the woods. I think people often get so wrapped up in the “rules” of sustainability and forget that at root, “sustainability” is about sustaining *our* lives and communities within the natural environment. We are most certainly not separate from nature, no matter how comfortable we make our McMansions or how much plastic we wrap our food in. And we’re not separate from each other, either–what one set of people chooses to do with the tops of their mountains (or their upstream water, or their grizzlies) can have a significant effect on their neighbors. So no matter how crazy the stinging nettles get, I pull them by hand, because Roundup will go in my well water, and probably into the creek, down to my neighbors, too. I should probably be worried about whatever red-legged frogs and salamanders might be harmed in the process, but harm that comes to them from nasty chemicals in my garden would just be a signal of what’s to come for me. Advocacy for healthy soil and “sustainable” gardening practices is just selfish (in a delightful way.) Since, as many here have said, and all of my daughter’s collection of dinosaur books reminds me daily, nature is indifferent. Adaptability is survival.

Black Walnut Dispatch

“Human place in nature”  is a topic I’m semi-obsessed with right now, and though it seems sorta esoteric, I think the issue has huge implications for gardeners and designers.

Here’s what got me all stirred up this time.

I just finished showing the 2005 film Grizzly Man to my English classes as part of a unit on documentary film.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s the story of the life and death of Timothy Treadwell, a self-proclaimed “kind warrior” who lived with the Grizzly bears in Katmai, Alaska for 13 summers in order to study and protect them.

Although Treadwell had a genuine love for animals and appeared to have better relationships with the bears than with other humans, he was actually killed and eaten by a Grizzly in October 2003.

Treadwell’s violent and somewhat ironic death is part of what makes the film fascinating, as is the question of whether he was…

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