Suez Jacobson has no shame in declaring it: She’s a tree hugger and an economist.

But when she was giving her speech as the Regis College Faculty Lecturer of the Year several years ago, she was challenged to find the connection between the two. 

“Usually when economists talk to tree huggers, they argue that the protection of public land is good for the small businesses in adjacent communities,” she said. “But to me this argument didn’t make sense because continued economic growth will destroy our remaining wild places.” 

So Jacobson set out to find a way to address both the finance-teaching economist and the tree hugger. A successful resolution – wild places encourage people to think differently about the value of unfettered economic growth – marked her lecture, which evolved into the film “Wild Hope.” 

The 35-minute movie, which is available at www.wildhopefilm.com, recently was shown to First Year Experience students. Its first public viewing will be 1:30 p.m., Feb. 23, at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival in Golden. Find more information on the film festival's website. 

The movie explains how a spiritual connection to the natural world can change viewpoints. It looks at how nature can help people mentally and physically, and it challenges a common economic theory – that economic growth is the answer to all human problems. 

“The hope is it shows us there is a life defined by compassion and not consumption,” she said.

Jacobson worked with a Denver production company to produce the trailer. Unable to raise the funds needed to produce a full commercial film, she turned to David Devine in the Dayton Memorial Library.

Devine, who is the digital content project manager, is an avid outdoorsman. He believed in the project and knew he could help finish it.

“We had all this footage and it was a very worthwhile thing,” Devine said. “It has lots of aspects that fit in with the Regis mission.”

The movie shows how important our environment and wilderness are.

“It started out with this idea and emotion that is produced in the wild,” Jacobson said. “It’s those ‘ah-ha’ moments that change us.”