Saturday, October 29, 2011

Interview with Julia Butterfly Hill

Julia Butterfly Hill was born in the U.S in 1974. She found herself amidst the ancient California redwoods while on a road trip, a self-discovering journey after an almost fatal car accident. The experience turned out to be her calling. In 1997 she volunteered to join a group of people guarding the redwoods from being cleared out by a lumber company. This was the first step towards Julia’s tree-sit that spread great awareness about the redwoods and gained international attention. The tree she lived on was called Luna. Then on, Julia has been traveling, writing and motivating people about caring for the environment.

Julia Butterfly Hill is also the co-founder of the Engage Network and is the inspiration behind What’s Your Tree. She is also the author of the book The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods and an environmental Handbook called One Makes the Difference.

Below is an excerpt from Julia’s thought-provoking Letter For Kids. It also gives details about her Luna experience. It’s a privilege to present it here.
Now, scoot up little ones, this is for you!

For 738 days, I lived on a platform made from reused scrap wood that was 6 feet by 8 feet. The roof and walls were made out of tarps. Living in a tree is fun sometimes, but sometimes it is scary and very hard - like in the storms. Also, it was hard to go for two years without being able to walk. I was in Luna from December 10, 1997 to December 18, 1999. I saw all kinds of animals including birds, mice, chipmunks, northern flying squirrels, deer and bears. I was not afraid of falling because I was VERY careful when I climbed around.

These redwood forests are actually part of a rainforest. Did you know that over half of the world's animals live only in the rainforests? Luna is about 200 feet tall and over 1,000 years old! She was named Luna by activists who built the tree fort during the full moon of October, 1997. "Luna" means "the moon" in Spanish. My friends hiked food, mail, and supplies up the mountain to me and packed out waste. I had a bag attached to a rope that I lowered down to the ground, then my friends put the supplies in the bag and I pulled it to the top! I did not have too many visitors because I was so busy! I wrote a lot of letters, and did a lot of interviews. I listened to a radio with a crank that I wound up to power it. I used a phone for interviews. There were solar panels in Luna to power the batteries for my phone.

I came down from Luna in December, 1999 after we made an agreement with the Lumber Company to protect her and 3 acres of trees all around her. After I came down, someone tried to cut Luna down in November, 2000. They cut through almost 2/3 of Luna's trunk, but some really smart scientists, tree experts and lots of loving friends were able to protect her with metal cables and filled her cut with a special clay mixture that a friend of mine recommended to help Luna heal naturally. When I went to visit Luna last year, she was doing great.

Did you know that Redwood trees live in families? They have very shallow roots, but redwood trees are connected to each other through their root system. When you see a group of redwood trees, often they are all part of the same roots, and they feed one another that way. So Luna's family of trees living all around her is now feeding her and helping her to heal.

And now Julia Butterfly Hill talks to our readers - welcome Julia! We are deeply honored to have you on Saffron Tree. Especially during Crocus! Thank you!!!

While you sat there alone and atop the ancient redwood, Luna, for 2 years, you obviously felt connected to Luna – did you have any dialogues with Luna? Did you feel Luna coming alive in some way? Also, I’m sure you missed Luna when you went back home, how did it feel?

I realized while living in Luna, that all of Nature has always been communicating since the beginning, but the problem is, we have forgotten how to listen. I experienced Luna communicating, but I also experienced bears and birds and the forest around me communicating as well. So much of what I learned came through the communication from Luna. (I talk about this in my book, The Legacy of Luna.)

Luna is so much a part of me that I do not miss the tree. I do sometimes however miss that experience of living on and with that magnificent over 1,000 year old tree.

As an adult I can easily get a grasp of the enormity and need for your brave act back in 1997-99. How do you translate the power and purpose of your tree-sit experience to smaller children?

The greatest changes in history (and her-story) have happened when people were willing to put their bodies where their beliefs are. And at the same time, every single choice we make impacts our world. Because no choice happens in a vacuum, it is literally scientifically impossible to make no difference!

Our world depends on us working to respect, preserve, and restore this planet that we share and that gives us life. It takes care of us and all it asks in return is for us to take care of it.

It is quite easy for children to take the natural things around them for granted. Unless there is an obvious and heightened dearth of a certain resource where they live. So, how do we make kids see the preciousness of nature on a daily basis?

It is up to parents and schools to help children see the cause and effect of our choices and the world around us. It is incumbent on parents and teachers to make the link between when you turn on a faucet and water comes out, where does that come from, what does that effect; when you turn on a light switch and the light comes on, where did that energy come from and who and what was impacted by that choice; when you go to get a paper towel, paper bag, plastic bag, plastic to-go-container, to-go-coffee, where does that all come from and who and what and where is impacted on the front end and back end of that choice. You want to impact children? Look at your own life as a parent and educator and look at what kind of behavior you are modeling.

Can you suggest ways in which children can get involved in their own communities to help trees, water, and their immediate environments?

Simplify, simplify, simplify. DON’T buy yet more things that you do not actually need. Look at how much you throw away and realize the very real and huge impact that has on the planet and find ways to reduce your consumption. Look at how much energy and water you use in your home and find ways to reduce that usage. (I have a lot of facts, information, and resources for solutions in every day choices in my book One Makes The Difference.)

All of my books are printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, processed chlorine free and printed with plant-based inks instead of petroleum based inks.

THANK YOU once again Julia! Good luck with everything you do!

Redwoods by Jason Chin
reviewed here by Tharini will be our relevant pick!


ranjani.sathish said...

Fabulous !

Julia, it is so inspiring to read about your life and work.

Meera, thanks so much for bringing Julia to ST.

sathish said...

wow. lovely.

Artnavy said...

Really inspired by this
Thanks Meera and Julia

Vibha said...

Great interview Meera.

Julia Dutta said...

Thanks for posting. This is pure bliss and so inspirational.

Praba Ram said...

Highly inspiring. Thanks you both!

So heart-warming, esp the part about healing the cut. Reminds me of something that happened y'day. While reverse-parking at the dance class near home, banged very slightly onto a tree.Teeny scratches on the rear-lights. The urban humans that we are of course checked on the car to make sure everything was OK. The caretaker lady of the property quickly came running and guess, what... to check on the "tree"...and went, "make sure nothing has happened to the is lifeless but trees are's a "vaai illa jeevan aache" loosely translated as "the lifeform can't speak its feelings!" Make sure you guys haven't hurt her. I was, needless to say, SPEECHLESS...
She's from a remote village in southern India.

utbtkids said...


That's all I can say.

Very inspirational Meera.

Thanks Julia.

Tharini said...

Wow. Julia, I can't wait to read your book and understand with more intensity the experience you had and are having with Luna. Wow.

Simplify simplify simplify!. That is going to be my mantra now.

Abd-allah said...

Yes. Definitely very inspiring, Julia. Can only imagine your persistence and adamance and the reaction of the lumber company. We make a difference with the choices we true.

Great questions, Meera..I will post on my other networks as well.

Reshma Khan

sandhya said...

Very inspiring!

I have been to the redwood forest in California many times- have stayed at a single-family occupancy motel for a few days- fending for ourselves, with nothing for miles on both sides. We took walks in the forest everyday, and the only sounds we could hear were those of nature. So I can connect very well with Julia Butterfly's experience- and passion for saving these magnificient trees.

Learnt a new thing, too. I didn't know that redwood trees lived in families! Amazing!

Thanks, Meera, for bringing this interview to us.

Meera Sriram said...

Thanks to my 7 year old - we were introduced to Julia through the book "Judy Moody saves the world"!

Thanks all! I'm glad we could all connect, appreciate, learn and let her passion bleed into us...

Thanks again Julia, as you can see, we all seem propelled to do our bit!

Related Posts with Thumbnails