I went to Montgomery Woods this morning, to spend some time with the redwoods. I was supposed to meet the Sierra Club in town for a group hike, but there was only one other woman waiting. There was no one else that showed up, and neither one of us were actually a part of the Sierra Club. We assumed that the group hike got canceled and neither she nor I heard the update. So I drove up to Montgomery Woods solo and that was just fine.
The hike felt more like a renewal of vows, and that vow being the re-affirmation that this ecosystem is invaluable, and these trees are worth protecting, defending, and fighting for, should the need arise. Today I thought about how to bridge the gap that exists between those like myself who feel that ancient redwoods are worth protecting, defending, and fighting for, and those who do not, who see the redwoods as "just trees."
As a teenager growing up on the east coast, I remember hearing about Julia "Butterfly" Hill. She was more of a caricature than an actual human being to me at the time. She was "just a dirty, tree hugging hippy," in my mind, and probably in the mind of a majority of Americans. Redwoods, were not on my radar as anything worth thinking about, especially as a teenager living 3,000 miles away. Now, I view Julia as a true American heroine.
At the end of her two year tree sit in 1999, the 25 year old Julia descended "Luna," (the name given to the tree) and said with tears in her eyes, "I understand that all of us are governed by different values, and I understand that to some people I'm just a dirty tree hugging hippy, I can't imagine being able to take a chainsaw to something like this...I don't understand."
Is it possible that those who don't understand will ever understand? Are there bridges that we can build to help facilitate that understanding? Is there more to these trees than just lumber? Does the ecosystem matter? What about other threatened ecosystems around the world? The topic seems as relevant today as it was 20 years ago.