Sacred Awakenings Interview: Julia Butterfly Hill by Stephen Dinan


Stephen Dinan:
Julia Butterfly Hill has quite a bit of fame for her time as a tree sitter, which was for over two years, in a tree known as Luna, helping to create a buffer of protection around that tree and bring attention to the plight of the Redwoods and the ancient forests. Julia has also been an activist, a writer, and a poet. She wrote a book called Legacy of Luna and One Makes a Difference and she’s done audio releases. Julia for me personally is someone who has brought together the deep care for the environment and activism with a beautiful sense of heart and spirit. Probably more than any other person, she has really married those two elements and for that reason has always deeply inspired me. Julia, you’re joining us after you’ve already been busy tree-planting this morning – I want to hear about that.
Julia Butterfly Hill: Thanks, it’s great to be with everyone. On this day it’s really special – I’ve been planting trees with a group called Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco and today marks their 1000th tree planting which totals over 43,000 trees that they’ve planted in San Francisco. They’ve been at the heart of greening community and really building community at the same time. It was already a busy and joy-filled morning.
Stephen Dinan: Because our focus here is the Sacred Awakening Series and you weave together the natural world and the sacred dimension in very interesting ways, I’d love you to share a bit about your own history of first coming into the work you did with Luna and the environment but also how that has had a deeper sacred dimension for you as well.
Julia Butterfly Hill: I’ll answer that question but I’m going to first share one other thing. I want to make sure that I start this conversation by letting people know that for me when I hear something like “spiritual leader” I wonder, what does that mean? So I want to make sure and reflect to everyone that for me, my commitment is that I’m doing my best to be a mirror. I’ve learned in my life that we cannot see in others what we don’t already have within ourselves. When I’m sharing, I’m really sharing from a heart-filled space. Hopefully something that I share will reflect something to someone that allows us all to see deeper into ourselves. I also tell people that if I share something that folks don’t like, all they have to do is compost it. (laughs) Because then it can still serve us, right? I want to make sure that on the very front end of this conversation, just to reflect back, that I don’t claim to be an expert and I don’t claim to be a know-it-all. I don’t claim to be anything other than a person who cares very deeply about this planet and all the life that it sustains and I share from that place. I just want to make sure and start the conversation that way. When it comes to answering the question of how this form of sacred activism began for me in the Redwoods – it was really my first real action in my life. When I first entered the Redwoods I was just so profoundly and deeply moved by the energy of these forests. I was raised with a preacher for a father and I had never experienced anything remotely as sacred and as profound as the first time I entered the Redwood forest. It was like I finally breathed in what God must feel like. It was so beautiful for me and I literally began sobbing. It was such a deep and powerful experience. So when I entered my first clearcut and I learned that over 98% of the ancient Redwoods had already been cut down and that they were continuing to log them with such destructive practices. The industrial logging was so destructive to these areas that I was as deeply torn apart as I had been touched by the beauty. I was just as deeply devastated learning and seeing and witnessing the destruction of these sacred forests and that’s what launched me into what became an internationally-known action. I really didn’t know what I was going to do but I knew that I had to do something and although I didn’t have experience being an activist I had experience climbing trees. (laughs) And so when I heard that I could climb a tree to make a difference, I volunteered and climbed Luna, an over one thousand year-old Redwood that had been marked to be cut down. I really didn’t see it as a spiritual practice at first. I was actually really hurt and angry at first. I could see for miles in every direction. I could see the then Pacific Lumber Maxxam Corporation mill that was taking these ancient forests and turning them into blasted-away hillsides and burnt desecrated ground. In the beginning I was filled with a lot of grief and rage but that grief and rage began to destroy me and I had to find a new way and a new purpose to act from. That’s what led me on a spiritual journey that emerged as how I live my life now as committed to having the sacred guide me every moment of every day.
Stephen Dinan: It was a beautiful transformation that you went through. I remember in reading your book that there were a couple of things that stuck with me in terms of the trial in being up in the tree. One was the intense storms and the near-death experiences that took you to the brink being up there and the other piece that seemed very significant was just having to evolve your relationship with the loggers themselves who were often being very hateful toward you but then finding the place of deep compassion and connection with them. I wonder if you can speak about those two aspects of your journey in the tree.
Julia Butterfly Hill: I’m reflecting on the first question about the storms and the intense weather and the intensity of living in the tree. I’m reflecting to how so often we want transformation but we want it handed to us. I remind people of the transformation of the caterpillar to a butterfly. The caterpillar has to liquefy in order to become a butterfly and I imagine that’s not a very easy process (laughs) but we all want butterfly without the liquefication process. It’s interesting, because people will come up to me sometimes and say, “Man I’m so jealous of you.” and I say, “No you’re not, you’re just jealous of the results. I love you but you’re not jealous of me, you actually just want the results without the work.” We live in a society that wants to be able to pop a pill and be healthy versus good exercise and eat healthy food and be kind and loving and respectful to our bodies and to one another. We want the pill fix versus the work to get there. The same was true for me. I had very clear ideas of who I thought I was and what I thought the world was and that journey of going through the worst winters in recorded history in California, the journey of going through loggers trying to kill me and all the intensities I went through up there – I could not survive being rigid. I would have broken and come down and I was broken on every single level but I was able to stay up in that tree because I went through the liquefication process of letting go of who I thought I was. People will come up to me and say, “Thank you for doing that tree sit, Julia, I never could have done it.” And I always reflect back to people, “Well, neither could have I.” On December 10th, 1997, if you had told me what was coming, I would have laughed, I would have screamed hysterically and I would have run away (laughs) because there’s no way I could have imagined what was about to happen. My mind would have said, “No, Julia can’t do this.” But the journey of liquefication on every level, my mind, my body, my heart, my spirit, everything had to let go with that journey and give myself over 100% to the process. The result was that I got a life more magical and more incredible than I ever could have imagined having in this lifetime. Working with the loggers taught me about how we do things, like say, we want to stop clearcutting and yet I realized in that journey how effective we are at clearcutting one another with our thoughts and with our words. And I realized that if we want to stop the clearcutting of our forests, that has to go hand in hand with deep work in looking at how we clearcut ourselves and clearcut one another through our thoughts and words. What happens on the planet is the outward reflection of what’s happening inside of us. If we want to heal the wounds on the Earth and in our communities, we have to at the same time do that work at looking at the wounds we have inside of ourselves and how we then perpetuate that into the world unless we do that healing together.
Stephen Dinan: That’s such a key insight for us to really see, to engage the deep activism about what needs to shift but to be able to do that also in our own hearts – we’re not polarized against any of the folks that we’re trying to change. It’s so important that we’re really looking at the systems that are supporting a lot of destruction and not personalize that to the people. A lot of times they’re just incredibly good people who are just trying to make a livelihood.
Julia Butterfly Hill: That’s true, and it also involves looking at how we, too, are part of that system. The minute that we get passionate about something we often times tend to get really egotistical. We don’t mean to and I’m saying “we” because I’m right there in the group. Our passion becomes like blinders and we don’t really see the whole world and we don’t really see our place in it. All of us in various ways are part of the very same systems we are trying to change. If we vilify someone else, it’s a way of trying to let ourselves off the hook. The reality is that whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together. There are no perfect solutions. There are no perfect choices. I feel it would be easier if there were. (laughs) I’m obviously willing to go through any lengths to make a difference so if there was a perfect choice I’d be absolutely signed up to do whatever it took to make that choice but we don’t live in that world, we don’t live in that reality. When we vilify others we really undermine our own vision of the world we want to live in because it keeps us from looking at, “How is my life is contributing to healing or to hurting? How is my life contributing to restoration or destruction? Is my life an example of the world I want to live in or an example of the world I don’t want to live in?” If we’re not asking ourselves that question we really are helping to continue the perpetuation of the problems we’re trying to change and when we only point a finger at someone else, as my mother says, we are not looking at the three fingers that point back at us every time we point at someone or something else.
Stephen Dinan: I’ve had a glimpse of being able to connect in with the spirit or the energetic intelligence of the Redwoods and I’ve really sensed them as wise old teacher-beings. If you can slow down enough there’s a deep sense of intelligent presence that I’ve connected with but it’s been a just small dose and I was wondering, in spending so much time up there, how you would speak to them as your teachers?
Julia Butterfly Hill: I am so blessed. I got to live with an over 1000 year-old elder non-stop for two years and eight days. I learned so much about the wisdom that nature reflects to us day in and day out and realizing that our biggest problem is that we’ve forgotten how to listen. I feel that the massive global climate change and the severe weather patterns and disruption that are happening in the other-than-human world is Mother Earth going, “Okay, you haven’t been listening. Here, let me make sure that you don’t miss the point now.” Nature is constantly reflecting and communicating but we feel if it doesn’t have a mouth, it doesn’t speak. That tree sit forced me to slow down and forced me to listen with all of my senses and I realized that that’s more than just the five senses we’re taught about. I literally would not have survived the experience had I not learned how to slow down and listen. My actual life depended on it. What it’s taught me is the importance for all of us to slow down, to look, and to listen with all of our senses. Nature is communicating with us so much on a daily basis and I encourage people that even if you live in a city, pick a tree or a bush somewhere that you go to consistently and sit to the point where it’s a little bit uncomfortable, whatever that is – for some people five minutes is about all they can take and for other people it’s a couple of hours, to sit for longer than we think is comfortable to force us to slow down beyond what our normal capacity is forces us to pay attention. If we go back to that same spot over and over again, we’ll begin to see patterns, we’ll begin to see answers that emerge from that place. It’s very profound. I’ve actually led workshops on it and it continually humbles me and blows me away, the messages that people get back just doing this process for a weekend. I know from my experience that the more we commit to something, the more we put into it, the more we get out. This wisdom that nature is reflecting to us teaches us how to reconnect to the nature of our human nature. We’ve so effectively destroyed that connection between us as a species, as a natural species that we think humans are separate from instead of recognizing that we are just a thread in this miraculous intricate tapestry called life as we know it.
Stephen Dinan: The peace of really connecting with the wisdom of nature feels so important so that as we make the other shifts we’re more impassioned about them, whether that’s reducing our carbon footprint, recycling, or eating lower on the food chain. When those things are coming out of a state of reverence they have a whole different quality to them.  When you share I feel opened and nourished rather than feeling that I have to do this or I shouldn’t do that. I think it’s a really important quality that you help to showcase and bring forward in the whole environmental movement.
Julia Butterfly Hill: When you reflect on what you just said, without the sacred compass, without the heart-filled compass guiding our actions you’re just creating another to-do list. And how many of us already have too much to do on our to-do list. And how many of us have things that are dropping off our to-do list – when we look back two months later and say, “Oh, right, I was supposed to do that!” If we just create another to-do list how do we think anything is really going to change? I also remind people that we really need to be aware of “shoulding” all over ourselves. And that would be s-h-o-u-l-d in case anyone was confused. The way we “should” all over ourselves sounds very much like another word. The reality is that it creates a very similar mess in our lives and in the world because “should” is a very uninspiring way to live our lives. If we have inspiration guide our actions they will last. If we have a commitment to honoring the sacred in life, whatever our practice is, whether we consider ourselves spiritual or not, whether we consider ourselves religious or not, if we have something in our deepest selves that says, “This is the world I want to live in and I want to honor that through my life.” That as a sacred compass creates actions that don’t fall off a to-do list because they’re no longer about “shoulds” and they’re no longer about doing as a list. They’re more about actions as an automatic expression of our deepest selves and that’s a much different way to be living our lives.
Stephen Dinan: Perhaps you could share a bit about how that perspective has led into the most recent work with What’s Your Tree.
Julia Butterfly Hill: I was really excited when I was faced with realizing that it was time to complete on the organization I had started with Luna called Circle of Life. Its mission was complete in the world. We could have kept doing the work for eons to come, obviously, there’s no shortage of work to be done in the world, but I realized that Circle of Life’s mission and life in the world was complete and it was time to put that back in the ground so it could grow something new. The result was The Engaged Network, which has numerous sectors and one of the sectors is What’s Your Tree. What’s Your Tree emerged through the completion of Circle of Life –  we were looking at, “Now what?” We realized that that’s actually a big question for a lot of the work in our movement. For a healthy and sacred world there’s all this inspiration, motivation, people get excited, people learn about something and they’re like, “Wow, I need to do something!” And then there’s just, “Now what?” And realizing that there’s a lot of people taking action but unfortunately sometimes in a way that’s depleting of themselves and others. And other people who very much want to be in service but don’t know how to start. And What’s Your Tree emerge. We spent over two years in research and development and actually it’s designed to model nature’s wisdom in that nature is constantly evolving and so we’ve designed a system that has a feedback loop so it’s actually technically always in research because it’s looking to learn from the people who go through What’s Your Tree and what they then do in the world and then looking at what’s working and what’s not and why and bringing that wisdom back to the core organization and giving new life through that. So, it’s a very exciting model. What’s Your Tree is a symbolic question. It doesn’t mean, “Is your tree a redwood or an oak or a palm tree.” It’s, “What is your tree symbolic of in your life?” which is, “What is it that can call you and cause you to be bigger than you know yourself to be?” To be bigger than even the world reflects as possible right now. It’s a system that helps people uncover and clarify purpose, passion, and power, to take inspiration into action at the same time as building community because we’ve really seen that as one of the most important ingredients for sustained action versus going out for a day and giving it all you have and then giving up and going home. One of the key ingredients for sustained action is the need to feel seen, heard, valued, and an opportunity to contribute. That happens within the space of small groups and communities so it’s really an organizing model that’s about helping work on the inside of ourselves so we show up the most healthy, while at the same time supporting one another in community as we make the difference in the world we’re committed to making.
Stephen Dinan: Fantastic, I think it’s such important work. It can seem challenging to bridge the scale of the problems that we face on a global level and the urgency of solving those things pretty quickly before we create some calamitous results, and this need for really slowing down, connecting in, creating small support groups. I was just wondering –  sometimes people can burn out because there’s such a sense of urgency – so much needs to happen so fast. How do we keep that balance within ourselves between acting in a way that roots us in our being and in the natural world in a deeper way while also being strong about what needs to happen on a collective level?
Julia Butterfly Hill:  We live in a production-driven society versus a purpose-driven society and part of the work we engage in What’s Your Tree is to help people really have purpose drive choices of who we really are in the world. In a production-driven society we’ve actually perfected “busy”. We’ve gotten really good at “busy”. How good have we been at “effective”? If we look at the world in which we are currently living and we see that we’ve been working on “busy” for a while, how much has that actually gotten us? (laughs) How healthy are we? When I slowed my public life down, part of the reason I did was because I realized how many people were coming up to me and saying when they would see me, “How are you, Julia?” and then they would automatically say, “You must be very busy.” I realized that we had placed this importance on how busy I was. It made me realize that I had fallen into that myth of “busyness means effective”. But inside my joy was disappearing, my love for the work that I do was disappearing and I was turning into a production-driven society robot. And I thought, “I don’t want to be busy, I want to be effective.” So, yes, the issues we are facing are dire; we’re actually facing the question, “Does our species get to live here much longer?” We are on the brink of a pretty huge turning, one way or the other this has got to turn. We’re either going to turn out of inspiration or we’re going to turn out of crisis but one way or another, we’re turning. I tell people that one of the best things about unsustainability is that it’s unsustainable. Thank goodness! (laughs) Because the choices we make that are unsustainable are pretty brutal, thank goodness they can’t last forever. Unfortunately, the sad part is that those unsustainable choices are creating a lot of harm and a lot of pain in plant, animal, and human animal communities. We’re seeing species going extinct and we’re looking at the question, “Is our species one of the species that is going to go extinct?” When we’re facing that kind of fear and that kind of pain it makes us act like we’re in the Emergency Room; we have to act now, we have to act now, we have to act now! But we’ve been doing that for a while and yet we still haven’t created the kind of tipping points that we really need to create as a species, to not only be able to live here but to be able to thrive here. So the slowing down and doing the spiritual work and doing the work to cultivate the sacred in our lives, to cultivate love and joy and fun and celebration – this isn’t an excuse card, this isn’t a “go stick your head in the sand” card but this is a way of approaching dis-ease from holistic health care and saying busyness has not necessarily gotten us to where we need to be so what would it look like to be effective? My experience has taught me, and nature’s wisdom teaches me that effectiveness requires healthy systems. If we’re trying to create a healthy world and we’re doing it in an unhealthy way, how do we think we can get there? We have to take that time to slow down, to rejuvenate ourselves, but not as an excuse to not be involved but as a commitment to being involved in a very healthy and powerful way.
Stephen Dinan: I have been enchanted with the new movie Avatar, which is number one world-wide and seems to embody these emerging spiritual ecological values. I think it’s a positive sign that we are reaching the tipping point in our consciousness on our planet. Do you have any reflections on Avatar before we take some questions from the audience?
Julia Butterfly Hill: I feel that there are a million and one positive things about the film and probably an equal amount of negative things about the film. My biggest concern about this film is that the man who wrote this film in interviews hasn’t really acknowledged that this is not fiction. It is a fiction story but about real things that have happened and are continuing to happen. My biggest concern around the film regardless of how it is lauded or pulled down, I’m not so much into that conversation, but my concern is that we really have to help people see, to use something like this film as an opportunity to leverage in people’s awareness that this is actually happening. This isn’t just a really cool film with really cool visual effects and interesting action and love story. You throw all of the elements together and “voila”, you have a Hollywood blockbuster. Critiquing aside, whether it’s positive or negative it is just really for me yet again a call to action. How can we leverage this film being in the mainstream consciousness to shift the conversation that’s happening in the mainstream consciousness.
Participant question: When you were up in the tree and with the most discouraging moments that you had where you felt like you just couldn’t do this or it just wasn’t working, what is it that got you through that? What thoughts or what experiences or what consciousness came to you that got you through that moment?
Julia Butterfly Hill: It’s interesting because the minute you started to talk about it the tears came to me because there were so many moments in that tree where I was so hopeless. My body was hurting, I had frostbite on my hands and my feet and I thought I was going to lose some fingers and toes. I was involved in an activist movement where there was a lot of grief and pain and no healthy ways of managing that so we were attacking one another and people were ripping and shredding one another. Having to bear witness to a forest being destroyed. When we are suffering in the world today we usually try to avoid suffering so we go shopping or we go out to eat or we go drinking and partying. We have a lot of different ways that we avoid pain but I had to bear witness for 738 days and there was no avoidance of pain. So when I go to those moments I’m still very present to the pain and that’s why the tears come. My first response when I was feeling all that pain was to try and shut down and just be like,”I’m going to be a stoic wall and not feel this.” Yet the reality was that there was no way to go through it that way. It was killing me, trying to be rigid was killing me. And the trees taught me the power of the trees in the storm. It’s so simple and yet it’s so profound. The trees and branches that try too hard to be rigid in the storm are the ones that break. The trees and branches that make it through storms are the ones that bend and flow with the wind. I realized that I had to just go with it. Whatever the experience was, the pain, the grief, the rage; I had to go with it but not be attached to it and just let it flow through. That’s what still happens to me to this day. The minute you started talking I got present to those moments – I get present to those moments and the tears come. It’s not a tragic thing it’s just that I am a living, breathing, caring human being in a world that doesn’t want us to care. We have a system of capitalism that is built on us being disconnected first from ourselves and then from everything else around us so that we can keep making good consumers. We’re not supposed to feel in the world today. I always tell people, “If you have the courage to care in the world today that is your first victory. Make sure and celebrate it on a daily basis.” In that tree I learned the importance of being with the experience and emotions, not being attached to them but being with them and letting them flow through so I can be fully alive moment to moment. One of the other pieces that was very profound for me was to realize that even if I’m the only person left on this planet who has love committed in action in my heart and in my life then that is possible for the world. If I give up on that then I have given up on that for the world. The world I want to live in can only show up through me. And it is difficult. I have days of despair. I have days of rage. I have days of deep grief but if I take a breath in, every time I do with mindfulness, take a breath in, I realize a miracle just happened. Every single breath is a miracle and every time I remember that and I breathe that miracle in it re-inspires me to breathe in spirit. It re-inspires me to get up and say, “Okay, I may not be able to make the world perfect, but what can I do in this moment to have my life be a contribution to the world I want to live in?”
Participant question: There’s a real situation of animal abuse next door to me and then, of course, there’s the clear-cutting – I live up in northern British Columbia. Sometimes I think the best thing to do would be to get a witness within myself that could just get back from the emotional overdrive and somehow put things in a greater perspective. When I think of next door, with the animal abuse, I try and see the goodness in this person as well as what he does to his animals. It’s not like it’s all of who he’s is. There are other parts of him that are positive, but to pull back enough to get that perspective is really difficult. I wonder if you could address that if it’s not repeating yourself too much.
Julia Butterfly Hill: Thank you for your obvious courage to care. It is painful to care in the world today and it does take courage to wake up every morning and say, “I’m going to care anyway.” What I’m present to when you were sharing is that there’s not something to fix. When we go into fix mode we’re not really being in our most authentic self. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just not possibly the most powerful place we can stand. So when we feel the grief and we feel the frustration attached to seeing people being abusive to animals or to the land, our first response is that protector mode and it’s often times anger which is covering up grief and grief is always covering up care. So if we can take a moment and drop down the levels and get to our place of care and then having our care make the choices versus our grief or our anger. What that can look like is that we drop down until we’re present to our care and then we say, “What is the most healthy thing that I can do or say in this moment?” Sometimes for me the most healthy thing is to keep my mouth shut because I tend to have a big mouth. (laughs) I can cause more harm than good sometimes when I open my mouth. I take a moment and breathe in and keep going through that process where I’m clear that I’m in my “care” versus my judgment. When I’m in my care what would care have me say? Sometimes it leads me to say something. Other times it’s, “Julia, you’re too off your center, you’re too much in judgment and there’s no way that you’re going to say anything that is going to cause any good right now”. The healthiest thing for me to do in that moment is to shut my mouth and go and do something else. Then, when I’m in a healthier moment ask myself, “Is there something that I could say or do from this healthy place versus a judgmental place that might contribute to a shift in the way this person’s behaving.” The last thing I’ll reflect back for everyone is that we need to remember grace and compassion, not only for others, but for ourselves. When the caterpillar goes through the liquefication process to become a butterfly, and it finally emerges out into the world, there’s one last moment of it needing grace and compassion because there’s still just a little bit of liquid left on its wings. If it tried to fly right away it would fall. What it does is it sits wherever it has emerged and it takes a moment to flap its wings in the breeze. That last moment of compassion and grace for itself allows for those last dewy drops to evaporate so it can then be the light being that its been called to be. So as we do this work we have to have remembrance for the fact that we’re human beings. Even though we are also spirit beings we are human beings and there are moments where we will make a mess. If we remember to have compassion and grace for ourselves it will feed our reservoir so we can be better skilled and resourced to have grace and compassion for others.
Participant question: When I listen to so many of your interviews, and I’ve been on line digging up a lot of them, I hear a lot of people go back to Luna and back to those experiences. There’s definitely a lot that we can learn from the stories and the insights but at the same time I’m really curious about now, in the present, the work that you’re doing. What gets you excited now? What is out there that could really be latched onto by people and have a lot more energy put at it that would make positive change?
Julia Butterfly Hill: This past December marks ten years that I’ve been on the ground, continuing to do work on the ground (laughs) so thanks for presencing that. The things that really light me up are groups who are looking at problems through the lens of solutions. We can close our eyes and spin around in any direction and when we open them we’ll probably be pointing at a problem. Over the years I’ve found that I really want to be involved in partnering and collaborating with people who are looking at problems through the lens of solutions, really looking at it from the space of, “How do we create a space that everyone can participate in?” In the last few years I’ve started working with and continue working with the South Central Farmers in South Central Los Angeles, California. They had the largest urban farm in the country – it was 14 acres of a working urban farm in South Central Los Angeles, a place and a community that was considered throw-away. After the uprising, after the Rodney King verdict, the city gave this dilapidated, what had basically become a waste drop-off point to the community and they turned it into a thriving garden that fed over 350 families and then unfortunately the city decided to take it back and sell it to a developer. I got involved trying to help them save the farm and unfortunately we were not able to save the farm and yet the spirit of many of these people refused to be bulldozed even though their farm was bulldozed. I’ve worked with them to support them in purchasing land somewhere else and continuing to farm and creating community supported agriculture and after-school programs and all the things they were doing before so I continue to work with them. I’m one of the founding donors and advisors for a brilliant organization called Women’s Earth Alliance that works with building grass roots women’s work from the ground up and from the women out and it’s just wonderful what they’re doing currently in Africa. They’re actually in Africa right now and in India and in the Native American Southwest. They’re being asked to go all over the world but right now that’s what they have the resources for. Today, with Friends of the Urban Forest, I’m really passionate about making our cities more livable because with 6.8 billion people, and unfortunately that number is still growing, we actually need to focus more energy and attention on how to make our cities more livable so that people stop leaving cities in order to live. We have to look at how we create healthy communities even though we live in concrete jungles and so I love working with community gardens and organizations like Friends of the Urban Forest that are really revitalizing and rethriving areas that have become so concrete so that people, and especially children, don’t even know where food comes from. They don’t know about plants and animals any more except for in books and so any organization that’s working on really rethriving our urban city centers are things that light me up as well. So, there’s a whole long list, and of course, The Engaged Network and What’s Your Tree, I’m so lit up and excited by the work of that because what I’m seeing is people really stepping up in ways that they never imagined themselves doing; from starting Farmers’ Markets in their communities to creating community centers where people can come together and look at the issues facing our communities and how we can solve them, to one town where one organic farm burnt to the ground and the community pulled their resources together and helped to rebuild it. The list of things is just amazing. We have with our Off the Mat and Into the World sector of engaged network we’ve just raised over 500,000 dollars for an organization that works with providing health care and hospital care for women in Africa. There are so many good things going on. You ask me one question and I could just go on for hours because there is so much fantastic work going on in the world and I’m really blessed that I can leverage the attention and awareness around me to help support this good work.
Stephen Dinan: Julia, do you have any final reflections having gone through the groups and listened in to the rhythms of the calls?
Julia Butterfly Hill: I want to begin by thanking everyone. We all have a lot going on in our lives so I’m not the only one who does and I’m very present to the fact that you chose this time, today, to be with one another and be with me. I’m profoundly touched and profoundly grateful and my prayer is that this time together has given you new tools, new inspiration, information, and that you just leave this time more excited to be you and who you are and the unique contribution that you are in the world today so I’m just very, very grateful. I also recognize that there are many questions that we did not get to and just so you know, on my site,, there’s a link for Contacts and on Contacts page there’s a form you can fill out. If you have a question that didn’t get answered today whether through me or through conversations with one another please feel free to drop me that question through the Contact page and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I look forward to the ways we will be in communication moving forward and I really have enjoyed this technology. I’ve been on conference calls in the past and they can be a bit challenging to maneuver so this technology, for a luddite like me, actually excites me about the possibility of… you know, there’s nothing that compares to being in community one on one live and in person but this new technology allows us to build community from around the world. I heard voices from many different places, including Haiti and Canada and Germany so it’s really touching to have been able to share this time with all of you and I thank you again for having allowed me the opportunity to share.
Stephen Dinan: Thank you Julia, you always just shine with so much vulnerability, truth, radiance, and inspiration and I always feel touched and inspired by you. Thank you, we’re really honored to have you as part of this series. Have a great rest of your day planting trees and raising money and all sorts of fantastic things.