Annual Meeting January 17, 2014

Jens Jensen Legacy

Jens Jensen Legacy

Friday January 17, 20147:00PM

Riverside Township Hall


The annual meeting this year, was held on Friday, January 17, 2014, at 7pm, in the Village Hall, with special guest speaker Carey Lundin, director and co-producer of “Jens Jensen The Living Green”, a feature documentary for PBS about the irascible Prairie Style landscape architect and the Midwest’s first great conservationist. Jensen was profoundly influenced by Olmsted. Carey touched upon the many Olmsted connections with a film excerpt covering the Columbian Exposition Wooded Island, Riverside, the small parks (the sons of Olmsted) and Central Park.

The production of the film and location of long lost interviews of Jensen reads like a detective novel. This was a rare glimpse of Jensen in the first person and the opportunity for the documentarians to describe how they brought it together.

As is tradition, a scrumptious buffet followed the meeting. We thank all who attended!

Here is more background on the film from the Director:
“Jensen’s voice is so clear and strong in this film that when I heard him speak for the first time, he reached out and grabbed me with his story.

I had never heard of a landscape having a democratic ideal. I had no idea that the landscapes Jensen created for the workers of Chicago (he was one) were designed to be a clearing in the concrete jungle for the families who breathed heavily polluted air and lived in destitute squalor. I didn’t know that children worked 12 hours a day and play consisted of catching rats.

The community gardens he designed into all of his schools, hospitals and some park landscapes were delivering fresh food where there was none, and in many cases, still isn’t any. And although I spent summers at the Indiana Dunes I didn’t know that the entire shoreline might have been one giant steel mill if he hadn’t held the largest outdoor gathering in American history up to that time to create a conservation fervor stopping the mills from expanding. So heady was that battle that it took decades to later create the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

But when we unearthed a long lost interview of Jensen speaking eloquently and passionately about his life and philosophy — I knew we had a movie. Not only are we dealing with the same issues he worked so hard to remedy, today, we need another Jens Jensen.”
Notes from production and research in “Finding Jensen”:

“We cold-called a delightful archivist Susan Otto at the Milwaukee Public Museum, asking if she had any tape or film recordings of Jens Jensen. We knew of a filmmaker named Edith Quaid who made short films (regional and Wisconsin travelogues) for the museum in the 1950s. It was another dead end. But the next day Susan Otto called back. While she said she didn’t know anything about Jensen audio recordings, she looked in the archives, and found four small boxes. These were reels of 16 millimeter Kodak footage labeled “Jens Jensen at The Clearing.” These film reels had been on a museum shelf since the late 1950s. The museum had closed its own in-house audio/visual department around 1971, so there was no way for us to watch or screen these films there. Through a friend in Milwaukee we met University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) graduate film student Michael Kubaszak, who found us a movieola at the UWM Film School so we could see what was on the mystery reels. They only contained three or four minutes of footage , but they were shot at The Clearing in Ellison Bay as Jensen enjoyed old age. They were in that beautiful saturated Kodak color. The real shock came few weeks later when our new friend Susan Otto called again, “You won’t believe this, I found three 33 1/3 r.p.m. vinyl records labeled ‘Interview with Jens Jensen.’

It’s key to find the right voice as narrator – they’re most of the voice we hear throughout the film. Audition tapes from a hundred voice over artists crossed my desk. None were right. Celebrities turned us down. We were about to launch a nationwide manhunt for the right voice. Mark phoned Radio Bob Monachino, he said, “you know, Jensen’s great granddaughter is an actor, who does voice overs.” Say what? We got Jensen Wheeler Wolfe on the horn that day. It seemed on the phone that she sounded right. I wanted to believe she was. Two days later I was on a plane to New York risking time and money and the chance it wouldn’t work out, to record her. We rehearsed for hours. The result? What you hear and feel — along with her — is Jensen’s deep connection to the story as she reacts to the insanity of his life.”