Column: The woman who lived in a tree

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Julia Butterfly Hill lived in a redwood tree for more than two years. (Submitted photo)

Julia Butterfly Hill lived in a redwood tree for more than two years. (Submitted photo)

Commentary by Dr. Sally Brown Bassett

She lived on a 6-by-6-foot plywood platform 200 feet up in tree for more than two years! Why? To save an ancient redwood tree in California from being cut down by Pacific Lumber Company loggers. I personally have not met someone more determined to make a difference and more passionate for our earth than Julia Butterfly Hill.

Like many people, I wanted to know the particulars of how Julia lived during her time in the tree, affectionately known as “Luna.” Food was hoisted up to her and she cooked on a single-burner propane store. Bathing was done from a bucket. She seldom washed the soles of her feet, because the sap helped her feet stick to the branches better. She often called herself a “dirty, tree huggin’ hippy.” Julia faced some of the worst winter storms recorded in the history of California. She survived severe weather, harassment, loneliness and doubt. Because of her experience, she not only survived but thrived.

Through her mobile phone, Julia was approached by celebrities, politicians and reporters who wanted to support and document her battle against the powerful corporation. Julia accepted that it was her mission to pass on the message.

After 738 days, Julia descended on Dec. 18, 1999. Since then, she has become an activist for social, environmental and consciousness issues, speaking to more than 250 groups a year around the world. She wrote a book that I could not put down, “The Legacy of Luna.”

Julia believes “to live a life of service for a better world is a legacy that doesn’t disappear. It’s an imprint, and that imprint can be negative or positive, depending upon the actions and choices we make every single moment of every single day.” Julia speaks with great articulation and definitely practices what she preaches.

Julia Butterfly Hill embodies one of my very favorite posters. “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”


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