“The possibility of actually buying it, as audacious as that is, was possible.” So, says Kris McDivitt Tompkins about more than 2 million acres she and her husband purchased in Chile. (Imagine owning an expanse about the size Yellowstone National Park.)
Profoundly concise, the 15-minute “Douglas Tompkins: A Wild Legacy” does way more than honor the passing of a person one might say epitomizes enlightened capitalism. He made his fortune running two companies – The North Face and Espirit -- with his first wife. He left the business world and moved to Chile with his second wife, who was a CEO of Patagonia.
Working past intense, even whacky, suspicions about these Americans owning mega-land in Chile, Doug and Kris gifted virtually all of it into National Parkland. Shortly after Doug’s death in 2015, the Chilean government made him an honorary citizen of their country. (Kris continues the evolution of their legacy.)
Doug died in a kayaking accident, after a long life of outdoor adventure. As devoted as he was to micro and macro facets of business, he was much more devoted to micro and macro facets of a term with which he was long connected: “deep ecology.”
The documentary is filled with wondrous snapshots of the big beautiful wild, but there’s good reason to catalyze a message through the example of one person. Doug Tompkins turned consumer culture on its ear. So long as we need to filter success and leadership through artifacts like money, we should pay more attention to the likes of Douglas Tompkins.