Rebecca Gould is an associate professor of Religion and Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and the author of At Home in Nature: Modern Homesteading and Spiritual Practice in American Culture. She will be one of several facilitators for our post-film discussion at the May 18th screening at Shelburne Farms. Here is what she has to say about Mother Nature’s Child: “Mother Nature’s Child” shows us what we know in our hearts, but so often forget in our day to day lives: that regular, direct contact with the natural world is absolutely essential to our well-being. Director Camilla Rockwell brings us along as the children in her film – from teenagers to toddlers — plant a school garden in an urban neighborhood, track deer through the autumnal woodlands of Northern Vermont or explore the magic of Rock Creek Park.
Across the usual divisions of race, class and gender, Rockwell’s film unapologetically challenges some central assumptions in environmental thinking and scholarship today: that “nature” is important only to those who have the education and privilege to worry about it, while economic and social justice comes first to those who live in cities, don’t enjoy “white privilege” or need to supplement their income with hunting.
By simply telling genuine stories – and avoiding any temptation to preach – Rockwell shows us how crucial regular contact with the natural world is for cultivating physical, intellectual, emotional and moral intelligence – regardless of who we are or where we live. In so doing, she shows us not only how much we have to gain, but also how much we stand to lose when our children — through over-protection, a culture of fear, pollution or loss of habitat – no longer have the experiences that are part of our evolutionary, cultural DNA.
For anyone, like me, who grew up running around in the woods and allowing our imaginations to run wild also, “Mother Nature’s Child” is the story of who we were at our best and who our children may not get to be. That said, this film refuses to drag us down; rather, our many senses are enchanted as we enter the varied urban, suburban and rural worlds where nature invites us in. Visually rich, inflected with humor and the unexpected and provocative in just the right way, “Mother Nature’s Child” calls us to consider the future of that which we hold most dear: the beauty, health and well-being of our children and the natural world in which we all dwell.”