Tour

Hi Friends,

I was in the wet and cold of Milwaukee, Wisconson. I had a full and lovely day beginning with a tour and lunch with the wonderful folks at the Urban Ecology Center (www.urbanecologycenter.org). I so enjoyed the visit partly because the people were funny and very interesting. But also, they are an absolutely fantastic model of what is possible when we see caring for our Planet and caring for our Human Communities as inextricably linked.

They are housed in a really cool building filled and built with a majority of reused resources. From the office furniture to most of the walls, floors, tables, etc… almost all of it was saved from going to the landfil by taking what was no longer wanted by a school, business, or construction site and giving it new life in their building. And it is a building that is beautiful, homey, and full of exploration, fun, and wonder. Plus, they serve all the local schools within a two mile radius and have now begun to co-create branches within other parts of Milwaukee.

You have to check them out. They are super-cool!

Next was a drive a few hours away to Steven’s Point and a college presentation there as well.

From Milwaukee, I went to Wheaton College and had a great classroom conversation and larger event open to the whole campus and community. The professor who facilitated the conversation teaches a course on environmental philosophy. It was cool to see students really digging into the ethics of ecological stewardship in the challenges of living in today’s world.

From Wheaton College, I headed to Boulder, Colorado. This event was held outside in beautiful weather. Yippeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) The next day, i went to Denver to visit The Alliance Center which is a super cool, sustainably renovated warehouse that is the home for numerous organizations working for a sustainable Colorado. Check them out on http://www.allianceforcolorado.org. Later in the day, headed back to Boulder to do a fundraiser for the Alliance.

And now, back in the Bay for a bit. It is sunny and cold! Brrrrrrr.

I was supposed to be heading to Mexico to co-lead a retreat, but the swine-flu has changed all of that. Another indicator that we should not be mass-producing animals for food!!!! Go Joyfully Vegan! Yeah!!!

That’s the update for now.

Love,

jb

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Published in: on April 28, 2009 at 5:14 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I remember Boulder from many years ago when I lived in Longmont. Must have been a great visit.

    Safe travels.

  2. Hi~
    Thanks for sharing your events and giving the website for us to see what you saw and why you were so impressed.

    I’m so glad you didn’t go to Mexico at this time! How are the people at the compound where you intended to go? We will keep them in our prayers.

    Mass production does give raising animals a whole new meaning! YUK!

    loveyou bunches and bunches

  3. Good to know you are still around and doing your designated role as guardian of the Earth as well as our health.
    I ran into you at an event in front of SF City hall. You were signing autographs so I lined up. I was searching my wallet for a piece of card or paper for you to sign in. Then, I found a mushroom sticker.
    So I composed myself waiting for my turn. And this is what I said as I hand you the mushroom: “You’ve given so much to this world and I don’t want to take anymore from you. It’s my humble gift to you.” And you happily stuck the sticker in your shirt as I walk away.
    This story got buried in the back of my mind until I ran into treehugger.com. Flood of memories of your time spent on Luna. I was following the news just to check whats going on with you during those days.
    Anyway, just sharing one of my treasured moments in life.
    You have a good life.

    Rod

  4. I was struck by a phrase you used in your Shift in Action radio interview, to the effect that “in order to survive an experience like that [living in a tree], you have to transform or die.” You have inspired me to transform myself during my current crisis, partly precipitated by the financial crisis. (We met briefly at an event on the lower east side of Manhattan in – I think – 2005.) So I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a review of The Legacy of Luna that I published some years back.

    A brief note about the reference to John Wayne in the last sentence of my article. Although he was never a favorite actor of mine, as a boy I admired the qualities of courage, steadfastness, loyalty and integrity of the characters Wayne embodied in his movies. Only later did I understand the appalling politics implied by those characters (and by Wayne as a person). In comparing you to him, I am separating the virtues that made his fictional persona so appealing from the reprehensible values in the service of which those virtues were placed. During the last eight years, war and environmental degradation have been revealed not only as brutal and stupid, but cowardly. Peace and ecological responsibility are macho! That is the point I was trying to make.

    Rising to the occasion, 200 feet up

    In Eureka, Calif., one autumn day in 1997, at a rally by protesters opposed to the logging of the region’s magnificent redwood trees, a young woman got up to speak to the crowd. No one had any idea who she was, but her sincere and visible anguish at the destruction of the trees moved many in the audience. Willing to do anything to help save the forest, she was told by an eco-activist about an ongoing tree-sitting campaign to protect a thousand-year-old redwood, nicknamed Luna, which had been marked for destruction by a logging company, Pacific Lumber-Maxxam. Could she sit for a few days on a tiny platform near the top of Luna to keep Maxxam’s loggers from cutting it down? On Dec. 10, 1997, Julia Butterfly Hill, then 23-years-old, climbed to the top of Luna, and she stayed there, without setting foot on solid ground, for 738 days, more than two years. By the time she came down, she had become the most celebrated environmental activist of her generation — and she had managed to save Luna from the ax.

    Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Julia Hill’s achievement — as her book, The Legacy of Luna, makes clear — was that she was utterly unqualified (except in spirit) for the daunting job she had taken on. She was a complete outsider to the local environmental groups, with no history of activism. In fact, before a near-fatal car crash in Arkansas the previous year had rearranged her priorities, she had been a business student and a budding entrepreneur — a yuppie in the making. When the tree-sit began, her knowledge of local ecological issues was virtually nonexistent. Her motor skills, which the constant need to maintain her treetop eyrie would tax to the utmost, had been impaired by brain damage she’d suffered as a result of the car accident. And she had no experience at all with media outreach, a major objective of the campaign. Yet she survived and triumphed.

    To read this book is to become fascinated and absorbed by the mind and heart of a truly unique personality, one made up of equal parts unswerving integrity, deep spirituality, childlike wonder, self-deprecating humor and an iron will that an emperor might envy. Again and again, Julia Butterfly faced and surmounted crises — killer storms, corporate harassment and threats, severe frostbite (her toes for a time turned purple and black), even napalm — that would have driven a lesser person to defeat or despair. To top it off, whenever she tried to communicate the meaning of her protest, she had to cope with the utter incomprehension of Maxxam’s management, the local community and the news media. (A sense of the seriousness of the journalists who interviewed her may be gauged by their most frequently asked question: “How do you go to the bathroom in a tree?”)

    What kept this young woman going for two years when almost anyone else would have given up? The most critical factor in her success was her profound spiritual bond — there is no other appropriate term — with Luna. Not so long ago, I might have dismissed a book containing a heroine who talks to trees, and who treats them as sentient beings, as corny New Age pap. Yet Ms. Hill, with her unusual combination of moral passion and common sense, makes this aspect of the book not only esthetically palatable but almost eerily credible.

    Luna is a character in the book every bit as much as Ms. Hill herself. This is fortunate, because after finishing the book, one cannot comfortably say: “Luna is only a tree” or “Luna is only one tree among many.” One begins to feel, as Julia Butterfly herself felt at the very core of her being, that to abandon such a living being to the loggers would be like acquiescing in the murder of a person.

    Another big factor in her victory was her profound love and sense of responsibility towards people: not just her fellow activists (with whom she often disagreed), but the ordinary working-class victims of Maxxam. The company’s practice of clearcutting — that is, logging entire hillsides, rather than cutting selectively — led to a colossal mudslide that enveloped the town of Stafford on New Year’s Eve 1996, leaving many people homeless. Ms. Hill, a preacher’s daughter, learned to talk tough in defense of these corporate victims, as well as in support of the striking steelworkers at Kaiser Aluminum (also a Maxxam company) who were locked out by management. The Kaiser workers responded unexpectedly on Earth Day 1999 by supporting Julia and her tree-sitting campaign, in solidarity against the corporation. As Ms. Hill points out, this unheard-of bond between organized labor and environmental activists prefigured the historic alliance in Seattle later that year. (It should be noted that Maxxam’s misdeeds, at least those recorded in the book, occurred during the Clinton administration, and with its full support.)

    Ms. Hill has no difficulty maintaining a narrative voice that is lively, unpretentious and engaging. Her descriptions of the animal and vegetable life at the top of Luna are vivid and delightful and her sorrow at the crime of despoliation, which she was forced to witness every day while the loggers worked, is deeply moving. Though she modestly minimizes the hazards of her adventure, she survived longer than any other activist (at that time) in an environment relentlessly hostile to humans, where one careless step on a branch, or one strong wind gust in a storm, would have sent her hurtling down almost 200 feet to her death.

    Her worst problems, therefore, were never tedium or isolation, but the unremittingly intense realities of a harsh environment on the one hand and intimidation by Maxxam workers and hostile strangers on the other. (As Hill bluntly puts it: “Part of the world wanted me up [in Luna], part of the world wanted me down, [and] another part of the world wanted me dead.”) This book fully conveys that intensity, while seldom becoming melodramatic or overwrought — a feat in itself.

    In the modem world, the concept of heroism has become utterly debased. Fallen firefighters at the World Trade Center are crassly lumped together with dead CIA spies and soldiers accidentally slaughtered by “friendly fire” as martyrs for Americans to admire and emulate. Brutally attacking with cluster bombs one of the weakest countries on earth, Afghanistan, in order to enhance a president’s poll ratings is proclaimed the height of valor. So if the present article sounds more like a love letter than a book review, that is because The Legacy of Luna has reminded me — as we all need to be reminded occasionally to maintain our sanity — that the old-fashioned values of physical and moral courage, fortitude and compassion remain essential, and that these qualities still exist in the world in some authentic form and not merely in the sick travesty of them proffered by a degraded culture. Julia Hill and her forest defender allies, for me, embody in reality the virtues that John Wayne once embodied in fantasy, and I hope America someday will be able to tell the difference.
    – David Baldwin

  5. Thanks Rod!
    Love,

    julia

  6. Thank you! Great review! I am so glad the book spoke to you then and the recent interview speaks to where you are now!

    Love,

    julia


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