Sharing the Gift of Portrait of a Forest
In this season of generosity, Vermont Family Forests has received a beautiful, insightful, timely gift that we are excited to share with our local community. Weybridge-based photojournalist George Bellerose has given us 100 copies of his new book, Portrait of a Forest: Men and Machine. In it, George turns his immense skills as photographer and writer to exploring forest work here in the Center-west Ecoregion, specifically Addison County.
Ten years in the making, the book illuminates the history and present state of our region’s forests, the people who work with them on a daily basis, and the tools with which they have shaped Vermont’s forests. George profiles more than 20 woodsworkers—loggers, sawyers, woodlot owners, foresters, conservationists, policymakers, and forest products business owners.
The book’s historical photographs lend vivid context to the present-day stories. George’s own photographs—of forests, of woodsworkers, and of the relationship between them—exquisitely render their subjects with a profoundly observant, caring, non-judging eye. You’re bound to know some of the names and faces that grace these pages, and will soon get to know many others.
This book is George’s latest collaboration with the Vermont Folklife Center, with which he had previously published Forty-Six Years of Pretty Straight Going: The Life of a Family Dairy Farm (2010). His other published books include Caring for Our Own: A Portrait of Community Health Care and Facing the Open Sea: The People of Big Tancook Island.
When George stopped by the VFF office to give us his books, we sat for a while and talked about the long process that brought this project to fruition. George described how he is drawn to journalism as an opportunity to be curious, and is most interested in the integrity of the work of the people we “see but don’t see.” In Portrait of a Forest, his aim was to help people who’ve never been in the woods understand what’s happening out there—to help readers understand the lives and views of others through multiple perspectives.
That process takes time. George began working on the book in 2013, when he first went into the woods with forester Steve Weber, whose photo graces on the book’s cover and who passed away in 2019. Many changes have taken place in the lives of the men he profiles in this book, and the book is a poignant tribute to all of them, and to the forests that sustain them.
In a remarkable gesture of generosity, George has given us 100 copies of this beautifully printed book to share. He explains that, rather than sell his books, he raises the funding for publication, then gives the books to organizations for whom the book might help advance their mission. This book does that in spades for Vermont Family Forests, and we are deeply grateful.
We would like, in turn, to give the books away to good homes, where they’ll be read and appreciated. If you would like a copy, please email us at email@example.com. You’ll need to pick your copy up at the VFF office in Bristol (in the Old High School on the northwest corner of the Bristol green).
You can view a small sampling of the photos and narrative of Portrait of a Forest on the VT Folklife website, https://www.vtfolklife.org/exhibits-feed/portrait-of-a-forest-men-and-machine.