On December 10th, 1997, Julia Butterfly Hill ascended into the upper branches of a 180-foot tall, 1000+ year old redwood tree in Humboldt County, California. She would not come down for 738 days. For over two years, despite dangerous conditions and much hardship, she maintained a tree-sit that ultimately resulted in saving the old growth tree, named Luna, and other parts of the surrounding old growth redwood forest.
Julia had traveled to California after recovering from a near-fatal car accident. After regaining her ability to walk and speak, she went on a spiritual quest that brought her to the West Coast and the redwoods. There, she encountered activists who were doing a rotating tree-sit to keep Pacific Lumber Company from clear-cutting the old growth redwood forest. They were looking for someone to maintain a one-week tree-sit. Julia volunteered.
Wikipedia quotes this description of the first day, “An hour and a half after reaching the base of the tree, we got the last of the provisions up. By then it was midnight. Finally, I was able to put on the harness and ascend Luna. It seemed an exhausting eternity before I reached the top. When I finally got there, I untangled myself from the harness and looked around for a place to collapse.”
After her first tree-sit, Julia returned to Luna and ended up staying for over two years. She lived on two 6-ft by 6-ft platforms. She cooked on a single burner propane stove. To keep warm on the chilly and rainy Northern California nights, she wrapped herself in a sleeping bag with only a tiny hole for breathing. She endured harassment and intimidation, helicopter fly-overs, cut-offs of her food supply and much more during her time in the tree.
Her tree-sit came to a conclusion in 1999 when Pacific Lumber Company negotiated and agreed to several of her demands, including protecting a 200-ft buffer zone around Luna. She has continued to work for social and environmental justice, traveling to Ecuador to try to help preserve the rainforest, taking action to try to stop the sale of the 14-acres South Central Farm in Los Angeles, and participating in tax redirection. She is the author of The Legacy of Luna, and the co-author of One Makes a Difference.
This article is from Rivera Sun’s book of nonviolent histories that have made our world. Click here for more information.
Rivera Sun is a change-maker, a cultural creative, a protest novelist, and an advocate for nonviolence and social justice. She’s a love-based revolutionary and the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, The Way Between and ten other fiction, non-fiction and poetry books. Her essays and writings are syndicated by Peace Voice, and have appeared in over a hundred journals nationwide. Rivera Sun speaks and facilitates workshops in strategy for nonviolent change across the country and around the world. She connects the dots between the issues, shares solutionary ideas, and inspires people to step up to the challenge of being a part of the story of change in our times. www.riverasun.com
Learn more: http://www.juliabutterfly.com/
Photo Credit: By Carl-John Veraja http://www.flickr.com/photos/45212072@N00/306079940/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9503650