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A Sense of Wonder: New Film Captures Life and Writings of Rachel Carson

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2008) When pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, the backlash from her critics thrust her into the center of a political maelstrom. Despite her love of privacy, Ms. Carson’s convictions and her foresight regarding the risks posed by chemical pesticides forced her into a very public and controversial role.

A Sense of Wonder: Rachel Carson’s love of the natural world and her fight to defend it, written by and starring Kaiulani Lee, is now available on DVD. Using many of Ms. Carson’s own words, Kaiulani Lee embodies this extraordinary woman in a documentary style film, which depicts Rachel Carson in the final year of her life. Struggling with cancer, Ms. Carson recounts with both humor and anger the attacks by the chemical industry, the government, and the press as she focuses her limited energy to get her message to Congress and the American people.

The film is an intimate and poignant reflection of Rachel Carson’s life as she emerges as America’s most successful advocate for the natural world. A Sense of Wonder was shot in HD by Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler at Ms. Carson’s cottage on the coast of Maine.

Rachel Carson has been called the “patron saint” of the modern environmental movement. The Atlantic has listed her as one of the 40 most influential figures in American history. Praising Ms. Carson and her work, Al Gore wrote that, “Without [Silent Spring], the environmental movement might have been long delayed or never developed at all.”

As a scientist, a writer, and a woman, Rachel Carson has inspired generations. As an activist she fought governmental negligence and unbridled corporate interest. Through her scientific integrity and elegant prose she became one of the 20th Century’s most prescient scientific authors. And as an individual she battled economic adversity, family tragedy, and gender stereotyping. Ms. Carson reminds us that we each have not only the ability to make a creative difference in this world—we also have the responsibility to do so.

Rachel Carson graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College), worked several summers at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and then earned her Master’s in zoology from Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Carson worked for what was to become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a writer and biologist for nearly 16 years. In 1962, she delivered her seminal work, Silent Spring, which alerted the world to the dangers of chemical pesticides and launched our modern environmental movement.

The stage version of A Sense of Wonder, written and performed by Kaiulani Lee, has been touring the United States for sixteen years. The play has been the centerpiece of regional and national conferences on conservation, education, journalism, and the environment. She has performed it at over one hundred universities, the Smithsonian Institute, the Albert Schweitzer Conference at the United Nations, the Sierra Club’s Centennial in San Francisco, the Department of the Interior’s 150th anniversary celebration, and in May 2007 Ms. Lee performed the play on Capitol Hill, bringing Miss Carson’s voice, once again, to the halls of Congress.

The film is available for purchase on the Beyond Pesticides website for $25 for home viewing and $85 for public viewing. You may also receive a copy when you make a charitable contribution of $150 or more to Beyond Pesticides.


One Response to “A Sense of Wonder: New Film Captures Life and Writings of Rachel Carson”

  1. 1
    Benjamin Says:

    Rachel Carson was invaluable in bringing the dangers of reckless pesticide use to light in the 1960s.Its too bad so many tried to discredit her for threatening the financial interests of the chemical industry.Sadly,we have not learned one thing.We still have the same “eradicate” instead of manage sort of mentality that we did back then.As a result,we continue to impact our environment with these unnecessary poisons,while weeds and insects continue to become resistant.Time to end our antiquated form of pest control before its too late.

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