Among the Redwoods

John Hill
2. February 2021
Photo: Screenshot

Aeon Video has posted "A Little Piece of Earth," a short film by director Ryan Malloy that profiles Charles Bello, an 86-year-old architect who lives an off-the-grid life on 400 acres in Northern California.

The 15-minute documentary reveals how Charles, an architect who worked for Richard Neutra, and his wife, Vanna Rae Bello, a teacher, made their way from Los Angeles to the other end of the state in the mid-1960s, eventually raising two sons on their tree farm scattered with Bello's architectural creations. Much of the film depicts Bello's life now, ten years after his wife died, when "some mornings... it's kind of hard to get up" but he soldiers on with the mantra, "be active, be creative and be alive." It's a lovely film, tinged with melancholy but beautifully capturing the landscape where Bello lives.

Charles and Vanna Rae founded the nonprofit Redwood Forest Institute to create a conservation easement meant to protect in perpetuity the 400-acre property from development and excessive logging. A short film from six years ago focuses on this aspect of Bello's life, of saving California's impressive redwoods:

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