dvd-cover-for-websiteSigurd F. Olson (1899-1982) was a passionate conservationist, a presidential advisor, and a charismatic back-country woodsman. He was the author of New York Times bestsellers The Singing Wilderness and Listening Point among many other works. His conviction that wilderness is vital to human health and happiness arose from the idea that we have a biological, evolutionary connection with nature, and that our spirit suffers in isolation from it.

This all well before e-mail, iPods, and cell phones. Thirty years after his death, this film will take a new look at the importance of his ideas at a time in which every advance in technology further segregates us from our natural origins. It will examine Olson’s life to learn how he came into his ?wilderness theology, as it has been termed in the critically acclaimed biography A Wilderness Within by David Backes. As he chafed against the stifling theology of his father, a Baptist minister; as he stood up against friends and neighbors, courted presidents and statesmen in his efforts to preserve the natural areas dear to him; and as he struggled many years to find voice for his connection with nature, Olson gradually formulated his belief in the fundamental importance of wilderness for humankind.

In addition to interviews with his son, his biographer, and others who knew him and whose lives he changed, we’ll speak with contemporary experts from the disciplines of psychology, ecology, biology, anthropology, and burgeoning fields like eco-psychology and socio-biology. For the backbone of the film we’ll follow a group of college students into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, a vast wilderness which Olson was instrumental in preserving, for a two week expedition as they study his writing and record their own impressions of their wilderness experience. We have the full cooperation of his family, his biographer, and The Listening Point Foundation which was created to further his legacy, and complete access to a wealth of archival photographs, audio recordings and film footage, including a vintage 1956 activist film he himself produced and starred in.

By examining Olson’s life – the struggles and achievements which led him to his beliefs – and by evoking the wilderness experience, as he did so eloquently in his writing, this film argues for the importance of wilderness for both our spiritual and our physical survival.

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  1. rbarker #

    My name is Rocky Barker and I am an author and writer who was lucky enough as a student to get to talk several times with Sigurd Olson. His 1972 speech at Northland College steered my life and career. If I can help you in any way please contact me.

  2. 2

    I’d love to hear your story. Would you be interested in being interviewed on camera? Thank you for your comment. I will get in touch via e-mail.

  3. B. Sosniecki #

    This looks like a wonderful project and I can’t wait to see it.
    My name is Ben Sosniecki and I am a photographer and writer. I am the author of two photography books, One Moment and Through Western Prairies. I was lucky enough to attend Vermilion Community College in Ely during my first two years of college and even had an English teacher who’s mother helped edit Sig’s books. When I was working on finishing up my book on the midwest prairies I was able to write a few poems for the book on the end of Listening Point, I am glad to have those memories. Sig’s books and passion for wilderness has definately influenced myself and for many others. I think many of us share the same feelings Sig did about wilderness and that’s why so many of us can relate to him. His voice really encouraged me to follow my passion, and so far it seems to be working, I’m only 22 and signing my books for other people who love the wilderness as well. This is a great project and I wish you all the luck, Sig deserves it!

    Best of luck,

    Ben Sosniecki

  4. 4


    Thanks for you interest and your comments. I’d like to talk to you. I looked at your website ? beautiful photographs. I shoot stills too. I’ll get in touch with you.


  5. chipspal #

    I am very excited about this film. I work at our local library in North Idaho where I came across a book by Sigurd Olson. I quickly read it and every book by him in our library collection and then set out to purchase my own books. Having been a nature lover my entire life he says the words I feel. Through the Minnesota Historical Society and other libraries in Minnesota I have borrowed 2 VHS films that were made while Sig was still alive. Hearing some of his words in his voice was very special. Thank you for your hard work and for this film so that others may fall under the spell of his words and ideas.

  6. Peter #

    Thank you for taking the time to write me your thoughts about Sigurd and for your encouragement for the project. Please keep checking here for updates ??I am a little slow to post but just got done with a big shoot in the Boundary Waters and will be putting up some new footage very soon. Idaho is such a beautiful state ? I’ve done some filming there for another project and I had a seminal wilderness experience there as a kid. I’m still trying to figure out exactly where it took place…

  7. Alex Haapanen #

    I am super excited for this. i am a junior in college and as a junior in high school, we were required to write an American author paper. I stumbled across Olson’s works in our school library and instantly fell in love. greatest time writing a paper ever. passed on the author to a friend and my brother the next two years. Sigurd lives on in Esko MN and has had a profound impact on the lives of young men in northern MN. Thanks for making this movie


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