‘Grounded’ marks Colorado Public Lands Day in Steamboat with live event
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Peter Hack remembers standing in the moonlight gazing at a horizon to his west.
In a small town — population: 5 — somewhere outside of Casper, Wyoming, Hack first witnessed the grandeur of the Grand Teton National Park.
“I just remember looking off west and seeing these incredible peaks in the distance. And in between, there were no lights, only sagebrush and open country,” said Hack, describing a backpacking trip he and his wife went on years ago when he first moved west.
This memory and many others will be the focus of a new event, “Grounded,” an evening of multimedia storytelling honoring Colorado Public Lands Day at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17 in Bud Werner Memorial Library’s Library Hall.
“Public lands, those empty places — are beautiful and important because they allow us, in some sense, to redefine ourselves,” said Hack, who wrote the short essay “Open Country,” which he’ll read at the event.
One of the ideas he expresses in his essay focuses on the importance of visiting public lands and reveling in their beauty but also making people more aware these areas exist. It was an idea inspired by the writer Wallace Stegner who wrote, “We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”
“Sometimes we pass through public lands without even thinking about what they are,” Hack said. “Even in Steamboat, we take for granted that we have the opportunity to go to these incredible areas.”
Presented by the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and the Bud Werner Memorial Library, the free community event will include essays, short stories, poems, sketches, photography, music, visual art and more in a “live magazine” format.
“Some will make you cry, others will make you laugh until you cry,” said Jennie Lay, the library’s adult programs coordinator. “It’s a wonderful array of personal reflection and storytelling that really celebrates this incredible resource we have.”
The program, according to Lay, will include short impressions, longer lessons, catchy illustrations and poignant messages. The only requirement for submissions was that the stories were sourced and inspired by the ideas, environment and institution of public lands.
Featured contributors include Hugh “Buzz” Zars, Marianne Capra, Ellen Bonnifield, Karen Vail, Julia Ben-Asher, Carolyn Peters, Nancy Working, John Spezia, Anthony Tucciarone, Dee Hubbard, Ann Ross and Hack.
“We were hoping the community would reflect on what is inspiring and important to them about these landscapes,” Lay said.
Species, ecosystems, air and water, recreation, hunting, resource extraction, policies that govern the landscape or personal experiences that have shaped a relationship with those areas were all fair game for inspiring the material that was submitted. Lay said “Grounded” will be a one-time opportunity not to be missed.
“It’s words spoken from the heart, as well as the sounds and images that go with it,” Lay said. “It’s an opportunity to draw attention to what surrounds us and, specifically, what surrounds us here in the Yampa Valley.”
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