Why I Live in a Tree

Editor's Note: Julia "Butterfly" Hill, 24, has lived on an ancient redwood tree since December 10, 1997, near the community of Stafford, Calif., about 220 miles north of San Francisco. She is occupying the old-growth giant to keep it and nearby trees from being cut down by the Pacific Lumber Co., and to call attention to what she says is a poorly crafted deal to protect part of the nearby Headwaters Forest, the largest privately owned remnant of ancient redwoods. Redwood Mary is an activist from Mendocino County who is touring to spread the word about redwood destruction. See www.lunatree.org or write Greenwood Watershed Association, PO Box 90, Elk, CA 95432.

Living in this incredible over 1000-year-old redwood tree for almost two years now has given me both a literal and figurative perspective on the world in which we live. I can see for miles in every direction. I am surrounded by the most breathtaking beauty and the most heartbreaking destruction; fastly fading patches of beautiful forests surrounded by massive burnt, destroyed clearcuts and mudslides.

Climbing around on this tree one morning while droplets of fog were still clinging to the needles, I spotted a beautiful spider web shimmering and glistening from the sun hitting this dampness clinging to the web as well. It was more magnificent than any diamond necklace could ever hope to compare. I realized then a very simple yet powerful lesson- where there is natural beauty there is life, and the strength and balance necessary to continue this life in a beautiful way is all interwoven. Over time, our societies' pursuit of things has compelled us to destroy the most beautiful gift of all, the gift of life. We have become so individually self-centered that we are forgetting about the greater self of all interconnected life, and how our individual actions affect this whole. I receive thousands of letters from children around the world which often have a reoccurring theme, "We need to save the forests for the animals." They look at the forests as more than something only for themselves; they understand the greater whole. If they can understand this, can not we? Their future is the legacy we leave behind from the choices we make today. Let us choose to leave a living, beautiful legacy of life."

Luna Tree
Stafford, California

We all make choices. Choices are made within specific human constructs. How do these constructs affect the world around us? The primary cause of extinction of species is destruction and invasion of habitat. We humans ALSO need wild natural places to nourish our souls. The same question arises that applies to all that we do ... What changes can we make to protect and stop the destruction of that life which gives us life? Are we willing to scrutinize our activities so that we do not disturb and destroy the last pockets of survival for species on the brink of extinction?

The instant gratification and satisfaction of what we humans want "rather than need" has taken precedence over any strategies for protection of wildlife and biodiversity. Our best compromises are made based on "OUR!' narrow constructs of perceived needs. Before coming here to the East Coast, earlier this month and after I had climbed up to visit Nate Madsen in the tree which he is occupying in Freshwater near Eureka [Calif.] I walked the lands there and found myself sitting in a ghost of a forest and I cried. I realized that this destruction was not just made by men and their machines but made by all of our combined choices. I now walk along streets of Manhattan ... I pass garbage piles with wooden pallets, cardboard and tons of paper piled up in the trash. And sometimes I cry at our blindness. Again choices are involved.

We have forgotten that the earth is the birthright of ALL species! We are all interdependent and we need to not only recognize this-but to choose actions that respect the needs of all life! I ask you to look into your hearts and to take steps to walk a more gentle path upon this earth."

New York City

Kansas Steps Back

As a retired Presbyterian minister and as a person who has worked as a chemist in industry, I find the news from Kansas very disturbing.

The media have informed us that the Kansas State Board of Education has voted to delete all references to the phenomenon of evolution from state science tests. Charles Darwin's explanation of this phenomenon, which has been fine-tuned in the century since his death, is to be discouraged in the public schools of Kansas.

As a person who has spent a part of his professional life as a scientist, I find the action of the Kansas Board of Education to be absolutely deplorable and is comparable to the silencing of Galileo by the ignorant religious bigots of his era.

It is obvious that the Kansas State Board of Education hopes to silence the science teachers of the public schools by removing the subject of evolution from state tests. Intellectual curiosity on the subject of cosmic and human origins is to be discouraged.

One can only speculate as to what the next subject will be that the Kansas Board of Education will attempt to discourage in its assault on science and human enlightenment.

As a retired clergyman of the Christian faith and a practicing Christian, I am even more disgusted by the act of the Kansas State Board of Education. The Christianity I know tells me that it centers on Christ's love and his promise of human redemption rather than on the technical details of how the universe may have come to be or how life began.

Presbyterian Church
Menasha, Wisc.


The monkeyshines going on in Kansas over the issue of evolution is bad enough. But when a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America from the state of Kansas refused to stand up for the integrity of science education in the Kansas public schools I was thoroughly disgusted.

Elizabeth Dole came in third in the Iowa straw poll which means that she could very well become the Republican candidate for President. When asked about the act of the Kansas State Board of Education's decision to remove all references to evolution from state science examinations, all she could say was that this is a state and parental problem and not a problem for the federal government.

Now it so happens that the federal government is involved in dispensing the hard-earned dollars of all taxpayers upon public education in the United States. Is it really asking too much of a presidential candidate coming from a state where education in the sciences has been denigrated to take a stand supporting sound science education as defined by the consensus that has been obtained in all of the scientific disciplines?

It is my humble opinion that the citizens of Kansas will see to it that the six members of the Kansas State Board of Education who voted to downgrade science education will be replaced at the appropriate elections.

One would have expected that a potential Republican candidate for the presidency would have given that advice to the people of Kansas along with an eloquent statement supporting science education in the public schools of her home state.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth Dole has chosen to pander to the politics of expediency and ignorance.

Appleton, Wisc.

Lots of Theories

The remarks made by all of the presidential candidates concerning the recent monkey business in Kansas denigrating the teaching of evolution in the public schools reveal to the American people that they are scientific illiterates and therefore unfit to lead the most powerful nation on planet earth.

If one were to follow the logic of the present crop of presidential "wannabes", people who hold to the idea that the earth is flat ought to be able to present their arguments against the "theory" that the earth is round. After all, the flat-earthers have the Bible on their side.

Trying to sound cosmopolitan and broad-minded, Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush was quoted by Reuters on August 26 as saying, "I believe children ought to be exposed to different theories about how the world started."

One feels obliged to ask the governor of Texas if the ancient Egyptian creationist doctrine that we owe the existence of the cosmos and everything in it to the masturbation of Atum is to be taught as a competing "scientific theory" in the public schools?

This ancient "scientific" creationism is described in detail in Volume I of The Interpreter's Bible on page 246, published by the Abingdon Press of New York and Nashville in 1952.

Should local school districts really be free to impose such nonsense on children? That is a question that all of the presidential candidates should be obliged to answer.

Menasha, Wisc.

That's Me

In the September 1999 issue of PP you explained the reasons for members of progressive political parties to vote in a Democrat in the White House and a majority of Democrats in the House and Senate.

As an 87-year-old in both physical and financial condition who has been politically active for over 60 years, I have ended up being a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. That puts me right in the situation you suggest.

Wouldn't it be great if Hillary would defeat Giuliani for Senate? It sure would be wonderful for New York citizens to get rid of killer-torturer cops.

Keep up the good work.

Davenport, Iowa

Editor clarifies: We wrote that Democrats have a chance to regain majorities in Congress, but that progressives should work to put up progressive candidates, reclaim the Democratic Party from the clutches of big business and restore at least a two-party system in the United States.


I've been getting the Populist for four or five months now, and it's starting to grow on me. I thought the September issue was especially good. I do have a bone to pick, though. Most of the contributors' addresses you list need a computer, and are therefore useless to me. I've had enough of them.

Should you perhaps re-think here? Your progressivism is maybe getting in the way of your populism, with elitist consequences.


Miami Beach, Fla.

Editor Replies: We encourage our contributing writers to include their postal addresses or phone numbers so that readers can contact them for more information, but some prefer just to leave their email address. I suppose they fear the 3 a.m. phone call or the ringing doorbell. We try to forward letters of less than one ounce to writers who don't want to publicize their postal addresses.

GOP Health Problem

The House Republican leadership is faced with a problem. It wishes to put on a show of appearing to be strong supporters of patients' rights legislation but actually opposes any legislation that could really be called a genuine Patients Bill of Rights.

Faced with the possibility that a real Patients Bill of Rights might be passed courtesy of some Republican support for the Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act (H.R. 2723), the Norwood-Dingell bill, House Speaker Dennis Hastert has promised that the House will vote on patients' rights legislation in early October.

The fly in the ointment is this. Will the House be voting on the Norwood-Dingell legislation or phony substitute legislation concocted by Hastert and his buddies in the HMO business?

To make sure that the House of Representatives will be voting on legislation that creates a true Patients Bill of Rights, readers of these words are urged to write to their representative in the House of Representatives and urge that representative to support the Norwood-Dingell bill.

It's time for HMO's to be held accountable to the people they serve. It is criminal to allow anyone other than a licensed physician to make decisions that could make the difference between life and death for a man, woman or child.

Menasha, Wisc.

No Coincidences

It is not coincidental that I received your complimentary issue September 1999 ... on the test run of Y2K (nor the fact that the reprint of Mrs. Doris "Granny D" Haddock ["Old Reformers Never Die"] was included in said issue. There is no such thing as coincidence in the mystery of human existence.

But more to the point:

What your Editorial, "Casting for Leadership," fails to grasp is the fact that the laws of the land are obeyed and strictly enforced throughout our nation. And what's even more relevant to a grasp of Reality in the 21st Century USA is subservience to human dictum as paramount, but secondary to the charter of incorporation, a.k.a. the Corporate Entity.

In our current social structure, reality is for the power, the elite, the bureaucrat found in the laws and codification of same. Any deviation is a threat to the "Bottom Line" and is severely dealt with without question! My personal choice ... of draconian corporate speak was [President Reagan's] closing down of mental institutions throughout the entire United States "because the patients would fare better on the streets," as per the chief executive officer.

In summary, the just closing 20th century, ranked by a broad array of thinkers as the most horrific century in recorded human history, has had three aspects of "fascism," namely Nazism (Germany), Communism (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and Capitalism (United States of America) and as the old saying goes, if it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck and if it quacks like a duck, then it's a ...!

Might I urge that a Granny D speech be reprinted per issue until the next national election? (Who knows?) Life is wondrously mysterious.


St. Paul, Minn.

Global Scoundrels

Rising gasoline prices are a direct result of Bill Clinton and Congress' support in bottling up and blowing up Iraq's oil production.

The Gulf War only served to maximize the profits of American and British oil cartels and their Middle East suppliers.

Saddam Hussein isn't the only scoundrel in the oil fields!

Our national economy is threatened not only by rising fuel costs, but also from the activities of our Global Corporate scavengers, scouring the world for the cheapest and most desperate labor sources, thus forcing the closing of more US factories and putting more people on welfare.


Tallahassee Fla.

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