April 22nd is Earth Day, which got me thinking about Julia “Butterfly” Hill, who spent from Dec 10, 1997 to Dec 18, 1999 (yes, 738 days) living 180 feet up in a Coastal Redwood tree she had named Luna. She did this to save Luna, who is over 1,000 years old, and other surrounding trees, from destruction by loggers. That kind of passion is rare and admirable.
I lived in Humboldt County at the time, not far from where Butterfly (her forest name) perched in Luna. Just knowing she was up there was part of the whole magic of living there. I could not even begin to imagine how a North Coast winter storm felt when perched 180 feet up in a redwood tree. We had some fairly fierce storms during which I prayed for her safety. That’s not to say my cynical side didn’t rear its ugly head as well. It did. And still does, I am learning. This started out as a distinctly cynicism-free post, I swear, but all it took was to read her recent interview in the SF Chronicle to change that, I’m afraid.
A Chronicle staff writer asks Julia such questions as:
“What girl were you in high school?” (Didn’t fit in.)
“Ever look up an ex on faceBook?” (No.)
“When you Google yourself, you feel…”
“I refuse to Google myself. I just don’t engage in that reality. … If I were to read all the media that’s been done on me, I would no longer be me … But my manager and executive director have a Google Alert for Julia Butterfly Hill, and they check it out.”
Over the cliff of cynicism I fall once again.
4/21/09 Update: After some time, discussion with my husband (who is the most reasonable man I know), watching the birds compete over nearby nesting spots, and admiring how the baby rabbit in my back yard is growing, I have climbed back out of the depths of cynisicm. I have also learned of an organizaiton, cofounded by Julia Hill, called “What’s Your Tree?“ Here is a quote from their website:
What’s Your Tree builds on Julia’s story and asks the question: What calls YOU to be bigger and more powerful than you ever imagined? What cause is so important to you that you will go outside of your comfort zone to achieve it? What purpose are you willing to use your life to fulfill? In other words: What is YOUR tree?
Most notably, they have developed a curriculum designed for small groups with the aim of helping “individuals discover their deeper calling and to create one’s life around that calling.” Then, they work on moving “from an ‘individual’ point of view to a community point of view:”
Ultimately, we are building communities of people who are lit up by purpose, living their life powerfully and making choices that call them courageously forward into creating the kind of world they want to live in.
Whatever each person’s individual pathway is, we want to see them connected, cared for, and in community — because at the end of the day, being in community is the best (and funnest) way to change the world.
Now how can anyone be cynical about that?