Celebrate Aldo Leopold's Birthday Jan. 11 With One-Man Show

Friday, January 04, 2013

Chattanooga storyteller Jim Pfitzer will present his one-man play "Aldo Leopold – A Standard of Change," followed by a celebration of the conservation pioneer's 126th birthday, complete with live music, cake and a Leopold-themed raffle on Jan. 11. Both the play and the celebration will be at Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.

Since Mr. Pftizer's play premiered in April in Chattanooga, he has performed it at Bonnaroo, the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Wisconsin and at venues in West Virginia, Minnesota and North Carolina.

Now according to Mr. Pfitzer, the pace of engagements is increasing dramatically as word of the play spreads. After the Jan. 11 celebration, he hits the road for eight shows in January and February in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

"I'm going to perform this show in as many places as I can," said Mr. Pfitzer, who has worked as a professional storyteller, naturalist and river guide. "I've had Leopold on my mind for a long time. He's been an influence since I first read him when I was 19 or 20." 

Mr. Pfitzer began working on the play after he was asked to read an essay from his favorite conservationist for a fundraising event. Instead, he memorized Leopold's "Thinking Like A Mountain" and recited it from memory. "Once I had that essay down, I wanted to create a story," he recalled. 

Months later, after researching Leopold he had lots of information but not a story. Then, while spending a few days in the Leopold archives at the Aldo Leopold Foundation, he found a letter to Mr. Leopold from a friend and former student, Albert Hochbaum, pushing him to be a more humble and human advocate and to admit that he had "blood on his hands." 

"I realized then that the heart of the play was going to be Leopold's transformation from the chief architect of the predator eradication program out west to the man who was shouting we need to learn to think like mountains, we need to reintroduce these predators and recognize that they have an intrinsic value," said Mr. Pfitzer. "It had to be about this transformation and how it was directed by his relationship with Albert Hochbaum. 

The play was praised by Buddy Huffaker, executive director of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, who said, "A Standard of Change brings Leopold's life and vision of a Land Ethic into the present and looks to the future for audiences both new to Leopold and those that have long looked to him and A Sand County Almanac for guidance and inspiration."

Aldo Leopold lived from 1887-1948. As a scientist and forester, he was responsible for creating and implementing environmental policies that he later came to believe were misguided and harmful. Eventually, his ideas and advocacy played a role in the modern movement for wilderness conservation and wildlife management and in the development of what he called a "land ethic" that recognized and preserved the value of biodiversity and functional ecosystems. His book, A Sand County Almanac, which laid out his ideas and described this restoration of a degraded farm, became an environmental classic and has sold more than two million copies. 

According to Jeannine Richards, communications coordinator for the Aldo Leopold Foundation, interest in Mr. Leopold has been increasing since the 2011 premier of Green Fire, a documentary film about Mr. Leopold and his call for a land ethic: "We’re definitely seeing an increase in interest in Leopold and in the Foundation from the film and some of our other programming, such as our Land Ethic Leaders program," a two-day training program that uses observation, participation and reflection to encourage community leaders across the country to explore and deepen their own land ethic in relation to others. 

The documentary – which was produced by the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service and the Center for Humans and Nature – has had over 1,000 public screenings in 50 states and 16 countries and has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Italian and Turkish. 

When Mr. Pfitzer was researching the play, he spent two nights in the small cabin Mr. Leopold stayed in while restoring that land, which is now managed by the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Wisconsin. One of his January engagements will be at the Leopold Heritage Group in Burlington, Iowa, where he will spend the night in Mr. Leopold's childhood home. 

Tickets are $10 at the door or $11 via Paypal. For more info on the play or to purchase tickets, visit www.astandardofchange.com.


Jeff Burr To Speak Monday Night At The Backlot At Heritage House

Noted film director Jeff Burr, known for such films as Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, Straight into the Darkness and Stepfather II, as well as many others, will be the guest Monday night at The Backlot. Mr. Burr will speak on "A Day in the Life of a Film Director" as well as the "Do's & Don'ts of On-Set Protocol." Doors open at  6:30  with festivities ... (click for more)

Lee Singers To Appear On Stanley’s Christmas Special

Lee Singers, one of Lee University’s premiere mixed choral ensembles, will appear on Dr. Charles Stanley’s “In Touch Christmas Special” beginning Saturday, Dec. 20. Dr. Stanley invited Lee Singers earlier this year to record several songs on his Christmas show which will air throughout the week of Christmas.  “Our time taping with the In Touch production team was a great ... (click for more)

Investor Group Plans $31 Million Hotel In Chattanooga Bank Building

An investor group announced that it is planning the development of an upscale 150-room hotel in the historic Chattanooga Bank Building. MCA is comprised of 20 EB-5 investors as limited partners with Red Leaf Development, managed by David Roos, as the general partner. Long-time partner PHG is involved in the development of the hotel and will be responsible for its management ... (click for more)

Police Say Texts From Slain Minister Detailed Drug Deals

An investigator testified Thursday that a minister who was beaten to death during an apparent drug deal had texts on his phone dealing with similar exchanges of illegal drugs. The minister's wife said he had gone out that night as part of a church counseling program to women. General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck bound charges of felony murder and especially aggravated ... (click for more)

Please Don't Close The Piccadilly Cafeteria At Hamilton Place

Oh, no. The Piccadilly Cafeteria at Hamilton Place is closing.  Its last day is Christmas Eve.  I will miss the great food they have there but most of all I will miss their servers, cashiers and waitresses.  They are all so friendly and accommodating.  They make it like it’s a home-style restaurant. I sure wish there was some way that Hamilton Place and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: God Bless Cathy & Co.

The secret to the whole thing is not getting caught but somebody at the Toys R Us store in Framingham, Mass., had a camera when Cathy O’Grady was very quietly paying off all the layaway balances at the popular location last week. The picture snaked its way onto social media sites and her friends quickly recognized the area’s most famous “layaway angel.” Then somebody in nearby ... (click for more)