Wild Ones   Sara's Influence  

By Joe Powelka, Wild Ones National President

Sara Stein photo.Many people go through life having little impact on their fellow human beings, and others affect the way we think and act for a lifetime. Sara Stein, author and environmentalist, was one of those rare people who caused us to think and to modify how we affect the landscape around us. Sara, an Honorary Wild Ones National Director, recently passed away at her home in Maine.

In April of 1995 Sara Stein was the keynote speaker at the Native Landscaping Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. She urged the audience to look at the entire picture of their communal landscapes, not just the individual pieces of their yards. She was very concerned that our normal landscaping practices were grooming the life out of the land, turning it into manicured and labor-intensive control opportunities. The land that got along perfectly well without us for eons now couldn’t seem to survive without our constant intervention to sustain it.

That spring day, Sara talked about the need for diversity in our landscaping, the need to return the land to what it once was. Restoration makes the land work again, reestablishing the connectedness of plant and animal life. She urged the audience to get back to the basics and stressed the need to bring back the entire community that once was. She talked extensively about the role of hedgerows as a vanishing habitat; the trees and bushes that once lined farmers’ fields were full of berry plants and provided cover for birds, small mammals, and insects. In her books she talked about the value of restoring our landscapes to their native past, and she talked to us that day about the cathartic effect it has on one’s soul.

I think that Sara Stein understood the concept that we are but temporary stewards of the landscapes that we inhabit. We can either leave our yards and communities in a healthier, more sustainable condition when we depart the land, or we can leave it in worse condition. Too many people in the past have done, and still do, the latter. I am sure that the landscapes with which Sara Stein was involved in her time here on Earth are in better shape than when she took stewardship of them. I hope that the stewards who follow her on those lands continue her good works. Sara talked to us that day in Madison and affected us, and she will continue to talk to all of us for generations to come in her writings. Her wisdom and influence live on.

Return to Sara Stein page.

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Updated: Oct 19, 2006.