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Protecting and Celebrating Our Native Wildlife Summer 2009


what there is a higher ecological with groups that align their work

Letter from the Director with belt tight- awareness emerging, a coming with Earthfire.

Departments: Letter from the Director

Earthfire on the Web Animal Care: Cucumber:The Little Wolf that Could Art A Walk on the Wild Side Into the Space and Silence Transitions Seeing with New Eyes Jesse Barrett-Mills Devin Dailey Education: Summer Schedule of Events Tin Cup Challenge Send us your stories, thoughts and suggestions: P.O. Box 368 Driggs, ID 83422 208-456-0926

Pictures and writings of Earthfire Institute are copyrighted. Cover:

Major Bear By Nine François See story pg 4

ening, hard work, and loving donors in a very tough time, we and the animals made it through the winter and into a season of hope. The hope, and excitement, is based on the results of an analysis of Earthfire’s assets and limitations, begun last summer with the help of a grant from the AnJel Fund of RSF Social Finance. Our concern was to keep Earthfire true to its vision, heart and spirit while also developing into sustainable organization. We enlisted the help of Joe Glorfield of TBL Capital, and Richard Landry of RichMedium. Some excerpts from the report:

into personal awareness of our interdependence with other life and our mutual responsibility. And second, there is an earth-based spirituality building at a very rapid pace. Those two factors provide an opening for us to eliminate the need for a physical cleansing of the earth. In that opening, there must be a profound transformation of our spirit and our mind and of our relationships to each other and to the earth.’ -Senge et al, Presence, p. 66.”

This profound transformation is what our animals co-create with us. If someone designed an organization to help make the critical changes, it would describe Earthfire. One of our “Earthfire possesses two visitors, Tashi Wangchuk, a aligned strengths that it can conservation biologist from leverage to build the support Bhutan, exclaimed, and broad public awareness that it needs to achieve “We talk about reincarnation. Here is the living proof! long-term sustainability: 1. the These are not “animals”, transformative power of the they are beings!” “Earthfire Experience” itself, and 2. the broad recognition in leadership circles that a new We may or may not share his emotional and spiritually view of reincarnation, but the integrated approach is needed depth of the “Earthfire to face the environmental crisis Experience,” interpreted through before it is too late.” our own personal and cultural lens, impacts people in a deeply In Presence, the critically spiritual way, leading to a higher acclaimed exploration of ecological awareness. profound change in people, organizations and social The report is designed to go to systems, the authors write: potential strategic partners and ‘The problem we face is funders. Please let me know if fundamentally because of a lack you would like a copy. Included of relationship, not just with is a list of action items, some of each other but with all of which you may be able to help nature…because we’ve moved make happen. Some examples: into a reductive kind of 1. Open Earthfire to leadership awareness that is based on groups looking for transformaalienation and separation. We tive experiences to assist them have to change that relationship with their own work; environto one of co-creation. The fate mental leaders, people in alterof the human species is still very native spirituality, media much in our hands. Certain makers, socially responsible things have been set in motion business people, teaching that will be difficult to reverse. professionals, and to school But we have two openings that children. are immensely helpful. First, 2.Develop strategic partnerships

3. Create an expanded advisory board as a support for planning, marketing, and succession. 4. Share the Earthfire Experience through enhanced digital media. The next step is to develop a state of the art interactive web site. We have selected a company and are now seeking $47,000 to make it possible. Examples of strategic partners we are developing include the California Institute of the Arts, who sent two graduates here to design projects with us (see page 6), and the Digital Storytelling department of KQED, the PBS station for San Francisco (see summer events). We are looking to identify “thought leaders” who would be interested in what we have to offer, and welcome suggestions. Concurrent with this we are looking for a yurt to serve as a meeting facility for programs. We have located a 30’ diameter yurt for $25,000 which would make a warm, attractive, all-season setting for meetings.

In addition to acting on this report, we are making a major push to reach out locally (see our summer programs, page 7). We have several new local “assets”: 1. Amanda’s back! 2. George Scherer, formerly of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, has joined our Advisory Board to help with marketing, 3. Cynthia Rose, who is indeed a Rose, has joined our staff to help with marketing and publicity. So – major progress in the midst of economic turmoil, yet great difficulty making our $15,000 monthly budget. Any donations you may be able to give, now or through the Tin Cup Challenge would make a huge difference. Warmly,

Earthfire on the Web As part of our new marketing campaign Earthfire Institute is now all over the web. You can become friends with Humble Bumble Bear on Facebook, Miss Clover the Badger on MySpace, or Patch the Arctic Wolf on Care2. We are also posting videos and digital stories onto YouTube and have an active blog on Blogger. We work hard to keep our presence on these sites active, so become a friend or a follower and get updated information on the life of Earthfire Institute.

removed the dead portion. A huge operation for a little wolf who was already so sick and weak. Summer kept looking anxiously at the monitor, expecting her life signs to stop. But they didn’t. She made it through the operation. She made it through the critical 24 hours. And the next 24 hours.

Animal Care –Cucumber: The Little Wolf that Could She was born one half the size of the others in her litter. She was so weak she couldn’t hold up her head. She was a tiny sausage that looked like a Cucumber, and Cucumber she became. Though sometimes we called her Cutecumber. Her brothers and sisters, so much bigger and stronger, pushed her out of the way at feeding time. But she was a child of love between Cloud and Moonbeam, so instead of letting nature take its course, Moonbeam nursed her with gentle love to give her a chance at life, and we were then blessed with her care.

She grew up into half-size wolf – a miniature. But not in spirit!!! She has a special zest for life and a strong spirit. She shows great courage and spunk. She was our only wolf, ever, who leaped off the top of the waterfall in the Wildlife Garden into the pool below. She dominated wolves twice her size. She personally thought she needed to be with our biggest wolf, Presence, and selected him as her companion. She barely came up to his shoulder. Two years ago, at age seven, Cucumber became very ill. She was losing weight rapidly. Our vet did test after test with no clear result except that she had infection. Powerful antibiotics did not help. She was down to less than half her weight and I found her shaking. The vet on-call was Summer who said the last resort was an exploratory operation, but that she was probably too weak to survive it. Since she was going to die anyway, and she was a wolf, and she was a Cucumber wolf with extra spirit, we decided to try it. We sat with her as she was prepared for the operation. We told her how important she was. We sat outside the operating room door through the several hours of operation, sending energy and love and prayers. She had severe peritonitis – but why? And why had the antibiotics not worked? Then the vet found it – one part of her intestine had slipped inside the other and created a blockage so no food could go through. It had died and was infected. Summer cut her intestine in two and

We brought her home and back into our cabin for round-the-clock nursing care. It was the dead of winter and with her shaved belly she needed the warmth. We monitored her anxiously; followed a precise regimen of various medications. We hovered. She began to gain weight– her intestines working!!!!! Food was going through! It was a month before she began to regain her strength. We took her out for walks but she was always eager to get back into the cabin. She really liked being in the house. But as winter rolled into spring and she stabilized we felt the house was no place for a wolf and put her back out with her companions. She wasn’t happy about it – she looked often and longingly at the cabin door, but we were resolute. A wolf needed to be with other wolves, not in a cabin. One day two years later, something called me over to her. She was looking at me, shaking, mutely asking for help. Back to the vet. With great reluctance, Summer said we needed another exploratory operation. This time it was her stomach. Again she had to come back in the cabin for recovery. We made her delicious chicken soup and tried to get her to drink a little every two hours. She really liked the attention. She really liked being petted and told how important she was. She really liked being back in the cabin. This time she recovered more quickly, even though she was now nine. But it was winter and her belly was still exposed. So we let her stay. And stay. Her coat became glossy and she reached normal weight. Eventually we tried to put her out only to hear heartrending howls. Back in she would come. Happiness. Out-tragedy. In again—happiness.

All the months she had been in the house, two years ago and now, we had the issue of overactive intestines and the ensuing result. We would put her out after each “accident” while we cleaned, then bring her back in. We had in our mind that as soon as the weather warmed, she would move back out. As she recovered however, to our utter amazement, it began to dawn on us that she had housetrained herself. With tremendous racket, she let us know that she had to go and despite her overactive intestine, managed to control herself until we could let her out. It was as if she had made the connection that if she was not housebroken, we would not let her stay. She, a nine year old wolf, a species that cannot be housebroken, has housebroken herself. We can’t say for sure how or why. All we know is that she did it. She also no longer jumps on the counters, shreds curtains or otherwise indulges in typical wolfly pastimes. She behaves, mostly, like a model canine. We were, and are, astounded. What should we do? She has tried so hard. Modified her behavior on her own. Put her outside – those howls. Let her in - a laughing smiling wolf happily pacing her personally claimed territory (our cabin). She comes to sit between us when we are working at our computers, getting petted from both sides. Her frequent requests for affection alternate between unutterably sweet and wildly exuberant. Pretty hard to resist. There is glee in her eye when she races in. Bounce in her step. Do we put her back out??? For now we have reached a compromise – in at night for dinner, attention and sleep. Breakfast. Then out for the day. Not good enough for her. She still gives heartrending howls upon being put out; rushes into the cabin at full speed, paces around laughing and happy—she is IN. She apparently decided what she wanted and worked to get it. She has become that contradiction in terms, a house wolf. Right now she is lying next to me, very pleased with herself, very pleased with life. The diminutive wolf that barely lived, has demanded; has broken down our defenses and our principles. That determined little thing has won. And knows it.


recalling of the pleasure and wonderment that animals held for A Walk on the Wild Side When I tell people I’m a fine art photographer, they always ask us as children. what kind of pictures I take. I answer that lately, I’ve been Artistically speaking, by isolating the subject against a photographing animals. They nod knowingly and add, “ah, yes, nearly-bare background, and presenting these animals out of a wildlife photographer.” context, the innate power and beauty of their form becomes the subject of the photograph. In this way, these images can Well, not really… become iconic, transcendent, like cave drawings or the animal I’ve heard many professional wildlife photographers describe spirits that inhabit Native American lore. their process. Typically, they use long lenses at a safe and At the same time, photographing non-disturbing distance, then wait for from such close proximity also the right moment to “capture” the animal in its natural habitat. Their By isolating the subject against a nearly- brings particularity and individuality goal, some say, is to capture an bare background, and presenting the ani- to the animal, especially if the image that is believable and mals out of context, the innate power and animal makes eye contact with the viewer. At this point, the animal descriptive. beauty of their form becomes the subject goes beyond being a removed, My approach to taking animal of the photograph. In this way the images iconic presence and becomes a pictures doesn’t have much in can become iconic, transcendent… palpable unique spirit as common with this method. To begin individualistic and valuable as any with, I’m obviously not interested in human counterpart. For me, it is referencing the animal’s environment, it is the individual that important that both aspects of the creature be accessible to the interests me. I shoot up close – very close – with a wide angle viewer in my photographs as I feel that animals play a critical lens, and frequently from below to get unusual perspectives. double role as inspiring archetype and sacred friend. Finally, I’m not so much waiting to “catch” my shot as I am To find my subjects, I rely on research and word of mouth to trying to manufacture it. locate people and institutions that will allow me to get as close I do this by either cautiously dancing around with my subject to as necessary to create my compositions. Meeting the kinds of get him/her in my viewfinder. Or I crouch motionlessly two feet people whose lives are intricately connected to these animals away while quietly talking, coaxing, cajoling – I’m trying to cut a has been a real gift. I’m convinced there are some among us deal so I can get him positioned just like I want. In some ways, who really still can communicate with our animal brothers and my approach in making these photographs is more akin to sisters. performance art and snake charming than to traditional wildlife Jean Simpson of Earthfire would be high among those photographic practice. suspected of still owning this My goal in producing this work skill. To watch him work with is two-fold. As the Major Bear (black bear), photographer, I want to Windwalker (cougar), and experience the full range of Bramble (grizzly) is to witness emotions that come from something incredible that is a being, as is oftentimes the mix of uncanny sensitivity, case, within touching distance primordial patience and a of wild animals. The animals I touch of voodoo. It’s clear he photograph, while accustomed gets it. to human presence, are by no means domesticated. The Jean Simpson, Nine François, and Bramble Jean and Susan have devoted thrill and excitement and their lives to remaining connection that I feel when I’m connected to this wilder side of life, and to preserving and next to these formidable beings is for me a very spiritual sharing it with all of us. As a photographer and an ordinary journey. I reach back to a distant time when my ancestors were citizen of planet Earth, I’m eternally grateful for their mission. in tight symbiosis with the creatures of the earth and I fancy, for Nine François, just a moment, that I can actually communicate with them. Photographer, artist and teacher On another level, I’d like for these images to elicit a variety of emotions in the viewer as well. Certainly I’d like to elicit respect Nine’s work is on display at numerous museums and galleries and admiration for the stately elegance of these creatures. But nationwide. Locally they can be seen at the Oswald Gallery in also, I hope to convey a sense of joy and playfulness… maybe a Jackson.



Bramble—Grizzly Bear

Susan, and illustrator Philbin de Got were featured at the 2009 Muskwa Kechika wilderness (MK) International Art Show in Dawson Creek, British Columbia between May 12 and June 7. Located in the northern end of the 2000 mile long Yellowstone to Yukon wildlife corridor, the MK is one of the last remaining intact eco-systems in North America, and is linked geographically and ecologically to Yellowstone and to those of us lucky enough to live in the shadows of the Tetons. The MK International Art Show showcased art created by individuals who participated in the Artist camps of 2006, 2007, and 2008, three of a total of five annual events created to provide artists a unique opportunity to visit and work deep within the untrammeled part of the corridor. Susan and Philbin collaborated on the unique book, Into the Space and Silence, which highlights the science, the beauty and the mystery of MK A rare, handmade edition of the book will be donated to the MK collection. Limited edition copies of Into the Space and Silence are available on Earthfire’s website , with proceeds supporting Earthfire Institute and Muskwa-Kechika wilderness.

Transitions After a year and a half as a log lying on its side, the second willow cut down in downtown Driggs sprang alive and began to grow!!! The Wildlife Garden now hosts two rescued willows to shade the animals.

Earthfire is growing. Here is what people had to say about the Institute’s transition as well as their own:

“There is the potential for this to be a funnel for a lot of different movements on the earth, to see how they are all related.”

“They have a tremendous opportunity to tackle the environmental sustainability problem. They are at a perfect time for that, because animals touch peoples hearts.” “The animals are precious and awe—inspiring. There is that feeling you get when an animal looks at you directly, deep inside...that rarely happens with humans.” “They help people see the relationship between all life. When people have a relationship with animals, they open up to more tenderness, more compassion, more understanding of themselves.” “Its impact is to awaken the interdependency gene.” ”It reminds me of a spiritual retreat, where you go for private reasons, but because you are a public figure, people are going to know about it. That is inspiring…”

Community Outreach In February, Susan was the guest speaker for “Great Women of Teton Valley” in Alta, Wyoming. Each month, a great woman is selected to share her professional and life experiences. Susan told of the life journey that took her to the place where she created Earthfire Institute. The audience was struck by the variety of experiences and countries Susan told about, and touched by the dedication and love she has for her animal friends. There were many folks who already had deep feelings about the survival of wild animals and this evening made them even more sure of them. Jean brought a special guest, Pinkerton the Lynx. I can honestly say that Pinkerton brought such grace and beauty that many were in tears. There was lively discussion and great interest in Earthfire. " THANK YOU! Philbin deGot

Seeing Through New Eyes As part of Earthfire’s new strategic plan, graphic artist Devin Dailey and film maker Jesse BarrettMills, recent Masters of Fine Art graduates from the California Institute of the Arts came to Earthfire to help us build national presence. The two had a real Earthfire Experience as they camped on the property and visited with the animals. The following is their personal reaction from their visit. After my first three days at Earthfire, I have discovered a whole side of myself that I had almost forgotten. As a child, I lived in a very rural New England community, known exclusively for its seasonal deer hunting. One night, a doe was shot outside of my home. Alarmed by the shot, I stormed downstairs and out the door to find a newly born fawn laying beside her. As the mother passed, I began to establish a unique connection to the young fawn. At that moment, the Fawn looked at me almost as I was to be her mother. I named her Darryl. Due to the strong presence of hunters in our area, my parents brought Darryl into our home for the night and eventually to the local veterinarian the next morning. For the next few weeks I spent my days by Darryl’s side as the local vets tried to save her. Unfortunately, due to malnutrition and the lack of her mother’s milk, she died after only a few weeks of life.

Driving onto Earthfire’s property for the first time was an exciting time for me. As Susan picked us up from Jackson Hole Airport she graced Jesse and me with her deep knowledge and transparent, passion-filled heart. It was soothing to hear her talk about Earthfire Institute and all the successes and challenges that it had to offer, as well as, all the hopes and dreams that she had for the individual beings that were living on the property. I thought I knew what I was getting into, for I have had plenty of experiences in nature and I thought I would be able to transition emotionally from a recent graduate student living in a utopian suburbia called Valencia. But really, I wasn’t ready for this experience.

My expectations of the animals were that they would be docile and easy to interact with. I expected them to be similar to how I have encountered them in pet shops, or at petting zoos, or carnivals. I expected the animals Ever since then I have secretly yearned for the chance to experience that again, Devin, Jesse, Major Bear and Jean all working to be somewhat impersonal and easy to walk up to and put out my hand together the opportunity to develop a strong and they would lick me in adoration. I personal relationship to a wild animal that expected the grizzly bears and would otherwise be seen as nothing more cougars to be intimidating and unapproachable and I also than a good hunt. I can say that during my time at Earthfire, I thought that they could quite possibly be lazy because they have returned to my youthful state and started to develop the were in captivity. I was fooled. same connection with many of the animals here as I did Darryl.

-Jesse Barrett-Mills Jesse and Miss Clover checking each other out

From my first visit and interaction with Miss Clover the badger to my last engagement with Major Bear, a black bear, I was now empowered to choose a new path of thought. I was able to set forth a new way of thinking about animals and their need for my support. I was able to see that they were no longer just animals, but individuals and each of them beings that had a unique quality or characteristic that was given to them by an amazing Creator. There were moments of clarity and sorrow that came to me because I was so hardened to these animals’ souls and something has broken those barriers down. I am not quite sure how to define what that something was, but I think it had to do with spending time with the animals and looking at them look at me. I got lost in their eyes. I got lost in their gentleness, in their purrs, in their chuckles and moreover, in their ability to share their story, their way of life and their purpose with me. -Devin Daily

Look for articles written by Susan in the Valley Citizen. The articles will focus on the Yellowstone to Yukon Wildlife Corridor and the animals that live there.


Summer Schedule of Events at Earthfire Institute

June June 25 6:00-8:00PM

July 18th, 9am

2nd Annual Tin Cup Challenge: Support Earthfire by participating

Getting to Know Earthfire: Wildlife Sanctuary, Education, Conservation

in the Tin Cup Challenge. Run in the events, come by our booth, or just donate to Earthfire using the official Tin Cup Challenge Form. Your donations will be increased up tp 50% by matching funds. Donations are being accepted by the Community Foundation of Teton Valley through July 24. Please contact Earthfire, 456.0926, or the Community Foundation, 354.0230, to donate. Donations can also be made online at (See back cover for more information)

Book Reading and Signing, and Silent Auction at Alpine Wines, 15 S. Main St., Driggs Enjoy an evening of wine, delicious food, dialogue, short films, silent auction, a wild animal guest as you become familiar with Teton Valley’s Earthfire Institute. Share stories and films about Earthfire animals, learn about our educational outreach programs, and enjoy a reading from Into the Space and Silence, a unique book written by Earthfire founder, Susan Eirich and August illustrated by local artist, Philbin de Got. Tickets $10; Wine Available from Alpine Wines

Art, Wildlife, and Conservation: A workshop for wildlife artists.

July July and August, dates TBD

Art, Wildlife, and Conservation: A Workshop for Wildlife Artists

See July Listing, Dates TBD Lightfoot; Courtesy of Marilyn Paine

August 27-30

Into the Wild, A Digital Storytelling

Workshop led by Leslie Rule, Director of Digital Storytelling at KQED PBS TV in San Francisco. Meet Earthfire wildlife, write a personal story and create a digital version for uploading to the web. Participants will learn how to use audio and video capture and editing software, upload videos to YouTube and images to Flickr, and leave the workshop with a complete digital story on CD or DVD, as well as source materials. All equipment will be provided (you may bring personal equipment); $550/person, limited to 10 participants.

Earthfire Institute and Lyndsay McCandless Contemporary Gallery are co-sponsoring a wildlife art workshop that will bring wildlife artists to Earthfire several times throughout the summer to spend time with Earthfire animals. Includes discussions on the nature of wildlife art, the impact of entering into personal relationship with wildlife, and reflections on the influence this experience has on the artists’ work. Participants’ artwork will be on display at the Lyndsay McCandless Gallery during the Jackson Hole September Fall Arts Festival. A special Earthfire Wildlife Art Show Opening September 3, 6:00-7:30PM will be held on September 3rd (see below).

Earthfire Wildlife Art Show Opening; at Lyndsay McCandless Please contact the Lyndsay McCandless Gallery for dates and Contemporary Gallery in Jackson. Enjoy a special, intimate more details 307.734.0649. Scholarships may be available. evening with the artists who visited Earthfire, and the art they created. Hear a dialogue about the artists’ Earthfire Experiences July 7, 4-8PM Native Animals Speak: A rare opportunity for 6 families to share a and enter into conversation about the effect of intimate interaction with wildlife in creating wildlife art, as well as the role of wildlife art magical experience meeting native wildlife in Earthfire’s intimate in conservation and wildlife habitat preservation. This event will Wildlife Garden, developing a personal relationship with the mark the beginning of the gallery’s activities for the Jackson Hole animals and carrying the seeds of stewardship into the future. Fall Arts Festival. Refreshments will be served. Tickets are $10 Through active observation, stories, questions and answers, families can ponder the important questions facing humans and the environment today with wildlife present, adding a poignancy September 23-27 and reality to the discussions. Participants will express their Making Media in the Wild, A Workshop for Experienced Media Participants will learn the latest mobile media experiences through writing, drawing, stories, poems, song and Makers. technology, creating media in the field, using small format dance, which will be shared around an evening campfire, with devices and the short form. Led by Leslie Rule, Director of Digital storytelling and a light supper. $260/Pair; additional family Storytelling at KQED Public TV in San Francisco, this program members possible @ $130/person, maximum 12 people. will take your media making skills into the field, from story concept to completion. The workshop covers story creation of the July 14, 7-8:30PM Storytelling at Pendl’s: A fun evening for families to enjoy animal wild, in the wild; hardware and software decisions; distribution stories based on true events that have occurred at Earthfire, as and publishing options. Participants will leave with a finished well as stories rooted in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. multi media project. The stories will serve as a catalyst to show the true nature of All equipment will be provided (you may bring personal equipnative wildlife, teach conservation biology, and provide a glimpse ment); $550/person, limited to 10 participants. into the world of Earthfire. We will meet fireside in the landscaped garden at Pendl’s Bakery. This event is free to the community. The universe is made up of stories, not atoms Pendl’s bakery goodies will be available for purchase. -Muriel Rukeyser

Earthfire Institute Protecting and Celebrating our Native Wildlife P.O. Box 368 Driggs, Idaho 83422

Earthfire Institute is a wildlife sanctuary and learning center specializing in a uniquely transformative brand of ecological advocacy. Grounded in the language of the heart, our work holds the potential to fundamentally change environment and all its living beings, leading

the way we think and act toward the towards a more sustainable world. Earthfire calling to her pack

If you make your donations to Earthfire Institute through the second annual Tin Cup Challenge, they will match that donation by up to 50%. A great way to see your donation grow during a recession! Last year, Earthfire Institute made the match and raised over $40,000, which went towards taking care of our wildlife ambassadors and developing our programs. Deadline for giving is 5pm July 24th. To contribute to Earthfire Institute through the Tin Cup: 1. Go to 2. Click on Tin Cup challenge information on the left side of menu 3. Click Donate Now 4. Select Earthfire Institute; fill out your information and you are done!! Don’t have a computer? Give Earthfire Institute a call and we will send you a Tin Cup Challenge brochure, or you can call the Community Foundation of Teton Valley and donate directly by credit card. Earthfire Institute: 208.456.0926 Community Foundation of Teton Valley: 208.354.0230


Summer 2009 Newsletter  

Earthfire Institute's summer 2009 newsletter