3. NEGOTIATING WITH NATURE

A compelling and deeply human film by Stefan van Norden, “Negotiating with Nature,” examines how the widening disconnect with nature is shaping our lives from many perspectives. In a high-tech world that is increasingly urban, gardens play a critical role as we navigate the transition into a sustainable future through stewardship of the land.

This timely film explores how both rural and urban gardens hold an important place on our planet. Featuring iconic American landmarks like Central Park, The High Line, and Mount Vernon Estate, the film journeys from country to city to unearth “resonant inter-connections between a person and the land.”

Gardening has been Stefan van Norden’s life work, as well as his passion. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire. From April through November van Norden makes a living tending to other people’s gardens, and is in his own every chance he gets. He says that many people think of themselves as existing apart from nature -- that nature is something to be encountered “out there,” at times and places of our choosing, rather than something that is always around us, even in urban environments. That is not van Norden’s view.

“We’re just as much a part of nature as any flower,” he says. “When we’re out there we feel comfortable. We feel that that’s part of our DNA. But we’re getting so far away from it that it’s not healthy.” So he set out to make a film about the human relationship with nature, and gardens.

The hour-long documentary includes interviews with gardeners, landscape architects, poets, and writers. The 2018 Vermont premiere was shown at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro, Vermont and then screened in Central Park in New York City.