Nina Leopold Bradley: Sense of Place

The Aldo Leopold Foundation (previously published in The Leopold Outlook)

Today I speak to you of my own experience, my own deep attachment to a particular place. This attachment happened over time, with my family, on a sand farm along the Wisconsin River – land that was neither grand nor dramatic, but mundane, humbled, and degraded. It seems to have happened by slow accrual, like the growth of a coral reef. I dwell in this place and am finally apart of this place...

On our sand farm along the Wisconsin River, I was able to get inside the scenery and the landscape. I became a living part of a living place. As we worked with family, friends, and neighbors, to restore health to the abused land, we were experiencing the slow sensitizing of people to land. We learned how to look, how to dwell and how to think about land. This was sick land but rich country for the growth of perception.

No one knew better than my father, Aldo Leopold, the joy of wild, unspoiled land. His love of wilderness was passionate and enduring. He had spent immense energy in protecting wilderness and trying to understand its dramatic complexity. He realized that wilderness was important in part so that we might retain the capacity to compare unspoiled land with lands more intensively altered by human economic activity. Leopold’s rationale for wilderness protection was not just recreational or scenic, but scientific, biological, political, economic and deeply aesthetic.