The Inspiration Behind “The Copasetic Life” from La Petite Mort

The Inspiration Behind “The Copasetic Life” from La Petite Mort

Creative Strategist Margot Coffey shares some of the inspiration for her La Petite Mort editorial, “The Copasetic Life.”
"I wanted to write a piece about the phenomenon of trophic cascades, and using them as a mechanism to consider the hidden and complex ways rebirth occurs in our world."
“Aldo Leopold extends beyond the title of a naturalist. He’s considered by many the father of the United States’ wilderness system. He was a conservationist, forester, philosopher, professor, writer, and bonafide nature lover. His essay Thinking Like A Mountain is a mantra to carry through life.”
Aldo Leopold, An icon of the environmental movement.
Mashomack Preserve

Mashomack Preserve

“Mashomack Preserve: My father was a marine biologist in his first life/career, and lived in Mexico where he wrote a book about Mexican fish. He also was one of the first to survey a nature preserve that is close to my heart: Mashomack Preserve, a 12-mile coastline on Shelter Island where I often went to explore the smaller nuances of trophic cascades in oysters.”

“This video, which describes how wolves shape rivers, is so beautiful to me. And it was this Yellowstone study that inspired me to further explore trophic cascades.”

Diagrams from trophic cascade exploration:

“I like these diagrams because they articulate the trophic cascade equation simply, while also illustrating how many species of (in this case, marine) life can be impacted in this interconnected chain reaction.

“A trophic cascade is an ecological phenomenon that occurs when a key player in a food web is decimated or removed from an ecosystem, causing a ripple effect all the way down – or up – the system, drastically impacting life at all levels of the food web.”

Trophic Cascade Diagram
Trophic Cascade Diagram 2
Trophic Cascade Diagram 3

“In order to be a true trophic cascade at least three levels of a food web must be impacted, which illustrates how severely it jolts that particular environment. The surprising power of a trophic cascade is its ability to occur top-down or down-up:  the ‘predator’ or the ‘primary producer’ can be the vital trigger point in an ecosystem.”

“Taxidermy was a source of inspiration when I was considering a way to convey the sheer quantity and variety of animals that are interconnected in life! Ultimately, I ended up listing out a set of animals directly affected by the sea otter, which I thought was visually powerful. But, I also love how these charts can display and explore so many different variations of the same species which are often overlooked.”

“Aldo’s words bring humanity into the mix. In sharing them, I thought it might widen the lens for all of us – to consider our role and the interconnectedness in the natural environment, and also to each other.”


“…I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn.… In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers … So also with cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf’s job of trimming the herd to fit the change. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dust bowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.”

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