Environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill to speak at Bates

Environmental activist and writer Julia Butterfly Hill, who spent two years living in an ancient California redwood tree to protect it from loggers, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, in the Bates College Chapel. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

In the tradition of civil disobedience, the then-23-year-old Hill climbed 180 feet up an ancient redwood named “Luna” in December 1997 and conducted a 738-day-and-night one-woman vigil. Hill occupied the Northern California tree’s crown to make the world aware of the plight of ancient forests. The property owner, Maxxam Corporation, was in the process of clear-cutting the old-growth redwood forest to clear its debt to the previous landlord. Hill arrived as environmentalists planned tree sit-ins to challenge Maxxam and loggers prepared to clear-cut Luna’s 1000-year-old hillside.

“I gave my word to this tree, the forest and to all the people that my feet would not touch the ground until I had done everything in my power to make the world aware of the problem and to stop the destruction,” Hill said. With the help of steelworkers and environmentalists, Hill successfully negotiated to permanently protect the tree and a nearly three-acre buffer zone. Attracting widespread media attention, she dismounted Luna as a hero to environmental activists.

Hill is the author of “The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods” (Harper San Francisco, 2000). Hill’s “protracted act of civil disobedience not only forced the North Coast’s dominant timber firm… to spare her tree but also provided a bully pulpit for global environmental consciousness raising,” said The San Francisco Chronicle. “A 25-year-old kid, who grew up in a camping trailer, surprises everyone, most of all herself, by not just surviving in a tree for two years but by being in love with it, embodying love,” according to The Los Angles Times.

Hill helped found the Circle of Life Foundation to promote the sustainability, restoration and preservation of life. Sponsored by the nonprofit Trees Foundation, Circle of Life works toward the conservation and preservation of forest ecosystems. Hill has been the recipient of many honors and awards and is a frequent speaker for environmental conferences around the world.

Appearing in Maine in conjunction with the statewide forest practices referendum (Question 2) on the Maine ballot in November, Hill’s visit to Bates College is sponsored by the Dean of the College.

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