85-year-old Victor Kaufmann's legacy: a forest

Most of us probably view our “golden years” as a time in which we’ll enjoy the fruits of a lifelong labors, and perhaps try to make sense of our lifetimes and our legacies. At the age of 75, though, Victor Kaufmann decided to start a project: the reforesting of a parcel of land he’d recently purchased in Lyle, WA. Unfazed by the notion that he would not witness the full fruition of his project — a healthy, mature forest — Victor set out to plant ten thousand trees on his land.

This Spring, ten years after starting, Victor will put that ten thousandth tree into the ground… and a team of student filmmakers, which includes his granddaughter, will be there to witness and record the event.

The film project, titled “10,000 Trees,” was spearheaded by Sarah Ginsburg (far right), a central Missouri native now in her final year of studying documentary film making at Boston’s Emerson College. After meeting Kaufmann’s granddaughter, Sarah Berkovich (near right), in a class, and hearing the story of her grandfather’s efforts, she knew she had to tell this story. A successful project on Kickstarter has provided Ginsburg and Berkovich with the necessary funds to complete the short documentary, which will also serve as Ginsburg’s capstone project for her course of study.

In her Kickstarter video, Ginsburg notes that this is a film about environmentalism… but also about “family relationships and growing old… and thinking about what we aim to grow in this lifetime.” Victor himself has no illusions about saving the world… but did tell his granddaughter in a letter that “If my small effort should move us a nanometer back from [a planet unable to support life], I would be gratified.”

Sounds like a beautiful story. You can still support the making of “10,000 Trees” financially — the Kickstarter project has a few days left on the clock. You can also keep an eye on the film makers’ progress through their Twitter feedFacebook page, and blog. And I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that film festival goers somewhere will get a chance to see Victor’s legacy brought to the screen.


Images courtesy of Sarah Ginsburg