By Joe Powelka, Wild Ones National President
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 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.