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‘Mighty Oak’ follows storied environmentalist who helped keep Boulder’s beauty in tact – Boulder Daily Camera

For decades, Dr. Oakleigh “Oak” Thorne II has been a trailblazer in the environmental community whose influence spread beyond Boulder.

The 93-year-old Boulder resident, who founded the environmental activist organization PLAN-Boulder, has a continuing and storied history. Now he can add a documentary film about him to the list.

“Anyone who values ​​Boulder’s scenic views has Oak to thank (along with a few others) for getting the first sales tax in the country passed for Open Space purchase,” Christine Anderson said in a release. Anderson is a co-creator of the documentary “Mighty Oak.” “He was directly involved in saving Enchanted Mesa from development, along with The People’s Crossing (formerly Settler’s Park), and other notable accomplishments that directly benefited the preservation of Boulder’s stunning beauty.”

“Mighty Oak” is a homegrown documentary highlighting not only Thorne’s lifetime achievements, but also his personality and humility. The film’s creators and directors, Anderson and Pam Hoge, are Boulder natives who have known Thorne for a long time.

Hoge met him when she was 16 years old and a friend of Thorne’s daughter. Anderson met him during the creation of a short environmental public service video years back.

“I had worked in public television, cable and independent video production for many years and was invited to a meeting about creating a short environmental public service video — and Oak was there,” Anderson said. “Soon after, I ended up coproducing a two-hour special program with Pam (Hoge) and Oak (Thorne) for KBDI-TV (Denver PBS) in honor of the 20th celebration of Earth Day.”

While working on a video commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Thorne Nature Experience—a youth environmental education nonprofit Thorn founded in Boulder—Hoge and Anderson decided to do a documentary on Thorne’s accomplishments and life.

“The most challenging part of the filmmaking was deciding what to include, how to represent a lifetime of amazing achievements and convey the positive impact he has had on countless individuals, on land preservation and environmental policy,” Hoge said. “It could be a mini-series.”

Thorne Nature Experience, originally called Thorne Ecological Institute, was founded in 1954 with the goal of teaching children and adults ecological education. Kids can attend summer camp, schools can book field trips and the nonprofit even has a Lil’ Explorers program for parents and children.

Thorne, who founded the campus a cappella group CU Buffoons, also founded nonprofit Thorne Films which operated from 1954-1974 in Boulder. His influence has graced thousands of children in Boulder, and he does n’t plan on stopping any time soon.

“I am thrilled that this documentary has given Oak an opportunity to have the community come together and show appreciation and admiration of this environmental hero,” Hoge said. “And through this documentary, it is my hope that more people will learn and appreciate how important he has been to our community. His impact on environmental education, connecting children to nature and conveying an understanding and appreciation of the natural world is the foundation for the future. ”

The film will be screened at 12:30 pm Friday at Grace Commons Church, 1820 15th St., Boulder. The 55-minute documentary will also be available to stream from March 3-17 via BIFF’s website. For more information, visit

“This 93-year-young treasure deserves our gratitude, respect and honor for all that he has achieved, all of the lives that he has touched and the inspiration that he has instilled in those around him — for us to each make our corner of the world a better place,” Anderson said.

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