My friend and fellow equestrian Alexandra Warren directed and produced the documentary film “Losing The West”, to be released this year.
The film follows one of the last “old west” cowboys in an examination of the diminishing opportunities for ranchers and horsemen who make a living off the land. As developers step in, their livelihood is threatened. The film chronicles the closing of a century old livery stable in Colorado. It is a very even handed, poignant account of the issues that we as riders and horse owners need to be aware of. In spite of the seriousness of the topic, there is levity in the form of historian Patricia Nelson Limmerick, Chairman of the Center for the American West at UC Boulder and McArthur Genius award winner.
With a wry sense of humor, she deconstructs the myth of cowboy machismo and points out the lack of romanticism in the day to day life on a cattle ranch. It takes enormous effort just to survive and the pay is subpar. The women pull more than their share of the labor on the ranch, hunting, chopping wood, driving tractors and helping birth livestock .
Ms Limmerick points out the absurdity of cowgirls who spurn the principals of feminism when their very actions and lifestyle define it. This film is a gentle reminder that nature is not impervious to the ravages of what we define as “progress”. The family farm and the pastoral way of life that went with it are in danger of extinction.
At my suggestion, Alexandra was kind enough to put the Save the Pebble Beach Horse Show grounds petition on her “Saving The West” website, where it has collected many new signatures.
from the Losing the West pr:
America loses 6000 acres of open space every day. The perpetual influx of millions into land historically reserved for farming and agriculture means Howard’s world is disappearing. Through his eyes we watch how a way of life and a noble tradition are being put out to pasture.
“We decided the best way to anthropomorphize the land was to follow the life of a livelong, seventy year-old cowboy,” said producer/director Warren. “It starts with his perspective and a time when vast open spaces were the norm. From there we broaden out to examine the bigger picture of land conservation, development, the food chain and the future of our nation and species. The end result is a commercially viable, entertaining film with an imperative message that speaks to all people, from all walks of life.”
LOSING THE WEST is the significant story of a sacred society threatened with extinction and an essential industry on which we all rely put in mortal peril due to the disappearance of natural resources. The film is a vital audit of America’s values and addresses some of the most important issues of our time. In the face of increasingly turbulent economic times, why would farmers and ranchers continue their grueling lifestyles when the monumental rise in the value of their properties makes cashing out their best prospect? Who will be left to grow the nation’s food as population continues to soar? And who will fill the roles as stewards of the land as concrete paves over the fertile ground?
Warren recruits both US senator Michael Bennet (CO) and state senator Ellen Roberts as well as TreePeople founder and president Andy Lipkis, the president of the US Cattlemen’s Association, the policy director of Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, the deputy director of Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, David Pimentel of Cornell University, Jules Dervaes urban farmer and pioneer of the Urban Homesteading movement, and many others to highlight the nuances of the dramatic debate.
As one man says, “There are just some things not for sale. Being a cowboy’s not for sale.”
Losing the West s a story bigger than any one person.
In many ways, the film is everyone’s tale. It is the chronicle of a national identity in flux where traditions are pushed to the brink by the inevitable tides of change and without preaching, it begs us to consider the ramifications of the paths we choose at this crucial moment.
Alex Warren was born in Denver, lives in Los Angeles, and owns a ranch outside of Ridgway. She is avid horse enthusiast an animal lover in general. She is a member of the American Quarter Horse Association, The Sierra Club and runs her own humanitarian and disaster relief organizations.