The following notes were edited from a speech given at the premiere of “Idaho Edens” in Chubbuck, Idaho, on November 1, 2001.
The garden of Eden as a concept is one we’re all familiar with. Perhaps it’s a bit presumptuous to use it in a title of a show about Idaho. Think of it as short hand for a place that’s special, for a place where you can feel pretty good about life.
I’ve been involved in more than one hundred programs on Idaho, as host of Outdoor Idaho. But this show, “Idaho Edens,” is certainly one of the most visually comforting projects I’ve worked on.
In large measure, that’s because of producer/videographer Jeff Tucker and others on our staff who spent the summer shooting both helicopter and on-the-ground video in every corner of the State.
But I also think this show was influenced, however subtly, by what happened on September 11, 2001.
Little did we know, when we conceived of this project a year ago, just how timely and valuable it could be for a lot of folks.
Before the terrorist attacks, we tended to think of special places needing our assistance, our protection. Now it’s almost as if we need their help. Now they can come to our rescue, as places where we can find solace and comfort and spiritual renewal.
These special places, these Edens, reassure us and give us the strength to face an uncertain future. They are part of the “geography of hope” that Wallace Stegner talked about, the “tonic of wildness” that Henry David Thoreau described.
“Idaho Edens” relies upon a concept that is deceptively simple. Find some special Idaho places and create an hour long television show around them. But this is a big state, and coming up with a list of special places is not as easy as you’d think.
For one thing, there’s a lot of them in Idaho. Our first list had all sorts of wonderful places that we thought to include in the show.
But when you only have an hour . . . and you subtract from that time a Tease, an Open, an introduction, credits at the end . . . and if you try to give each special place three minutes of time . . . you can really only have about fifteen Idaho Edens.
Then throw into the mix an honest attempt to be fair to all regions of the state.
There’s one other factor to consider. Would you personally want your own private Eden known to the whole world? Probably not.
We’ve all seen the articles in some of the outdoor magazines . . . “the top ten places in America to be alone.” Well, maybe before the article was written. I know I personally wrestled with that issue for this program.
How do you feature Idaho’s special places without damaging the very things you’re celebrating? We decided no maps, and we decided not to pinpoint any particular place too closely. And almost every place we profiled is currently being administered by some agency, like the Forest Service or the Nature Conservancy.
We also wanted to give folks more than just a Who’s Who of special places. We wanted to give them a deeper understanding of the state we call home . . . to help them remember that we do have a legacy in Idaho . . . to help them see that there are some things worth fighting for . . . for ourselves and the next generation.