Julia Hill Lives in a Tree


Julia Hill
Photo via Flickr

In 1997, Julia Hill climbed a tree. She didn’t leave for two years. But why? What was she trying to do? Bruce Gulland and Liz Waid tell her story.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Bruce Gulland.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

On December 10, 1997, Julia Butterfly Hill climbed into a tree. She did not come down for two years. She ate in the tree. She slept in the tree. She became the tree's protector. But why would Hill do this? And what made her finally come down? Today’s Spotlight is on Julia Butterfly Hill and her work for the environment.

Voice 3 

"I never thought that I was going to live in a tree. If I had seen what was coming, I would have gone screaming in the other direction. But life does not give it to us that way. Life just gives it to us moment by moment, day by day. We show up and live it the best that we can."

Voice 2 

Julia Butterfly Hill said these words during a conference in Washington. She told a large group of people about how she became an environmental activist. Environmental activists work to protect the earth. They believe that people should protect all plants and animals. But Hill did not always care about these things.

Voice 1 

At the age of 16 Hill quit school and worked at a restaurant. For many years, she was only interested in making money and material things. Then one day she had a serious car accident. It changed her life. Hill told the magazine Grist what happened:

Voice 3 

“I had a car wreck in August of 1996. I was driving my friend’s car. We were hit from behind by a drunk driver. It took 10 months of physical and brain therapy to recover from the wreck. During that time, I realized I wanted to find a more powerful purpose for being here on this planet.”

Voice 2 

As soon as her body healed, Hill travelled to the west of the United States. There she saw an amazing sight - the ancient redwood trees of California. These trees are reddish brown in colour. Many of them are thousands of years old. But what is most amazing is their size; redwood trees can grow up to 120 metres high. And they can be up to 8 metres across. These giant redwoods are the largest trees in the whole world.

Voice 1 

The wood from redwood trunks is very hard. This wood makes strong building structures such as parts of railroads and buildings. So logging companies cut down many of the giant redwoods to use for construction. There are not many forests of these trees left. Many environmental activists want to protect the remaining trees. The redwoods are very important to the environment.

Voice 2 

In 1997 a group called Earth First was working to protect a particular group of trees. They were negotiating with the logging company but they needed more time. They decided to send someone up into a redwood tree. They hoped this would stop the company from cutting the trees down. Julia Butterfly Hill volunteered. She wanted to go up in the tree. She tells reporter Judith Fertig about the day she went up into the tree. She named it ‘Luna’.

Voice 3 

“On December 10, 1997, I put on the belt and ropes and went up into Luna. It was 55 metres up. I thought it would be three or four weeks in the tree. But it turned into two years and eight days. I returned to the ground only after the company agreed to protect Luna and the surrounding wooded area.”

Voice 1 

Julia Hill lived in the tree for over two years without ever coming down. She learned to survive in this difficult environment. She walked barefoot on the tree branches. She never washed the sticky sap from the tree off of her feet. It helped her to walk on the tree branches. Hill built two small platforms to live on. She had a large piece of plastic material to protect her. But she was never comfortable. It is always cold and wet in a redwood tree. There were even very serious winter storms while Hill was in the tree. The wind and cold almost knocked Hill out of the tree. But she did not fall - she survived.

Voice 2 

Hill cooked her food with a small stove. Her friends visited her two times every week. They sent what Hill needed up through a pulley system of ropes. Once, they even sent her a chocolate birthday cake! But most of the time, it was very difficult and lonely to live in a tree.

Voice 1 

Finally, after years of arguing, the logging company decided to protect Luna. They signed an agreement to never cut down this giant redwood tree or the trees around it. When Hill put her feet on the earth, she began to cry. But from that moment Hill has continued her work to protect the environment. People around the world want to meet her and hear her story. Hill uses her fame to encourage people to work for the environment in their own communities. She told the San Francisco Chronicle:

Voice 3 

“Everywhere I go to talk about my experiences, I relate it with what is happening locally. I hope to get the general public listening, the ones who want to see the woman who sat in the tree for two years."

Voice 2 

Since her time in the redwood tree, Hill has done other kinds of environmental activism. She even had to leave the country of Ecuador. She was supporting indigenous people in their protests against mining companies. Hill works with many different groups. But she still lives a very simple life. She does not eat any products made from animals. She does not use things that create waste when they are thrown away. And Hill encourages other people to do these things also. She told the conference in Washington:

Voice 3 

“We live in a world that is full of problems. And we are the solutions to those problems. After I came down from living in that tree, I started realizing how every moment we make choices. Every single choice changes the world - every single one of them. Every moment of every day we are looking for ways to be living examples of all that is beautiful and humble and just and amazing about our world."

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Luke Haley. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Julia Hill Lives in a Tree’.

Voice 2

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye

Question:

What would you do to protect something important to you? Would you do anything extreme?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
spoth
said on May 04, 2014

In my country Ecuador were collected signatures to ask the government to not destroy the forest and keep the oil underground

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCwLjXH0f-Y

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thuyan9i
said on May 06, 2014

it’s seem difficult for me :(

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kenhieuloilam
said on May 08, 2014

In the life we desire to live a beautiful good life. We try much to live our lives well. We try much to live our lives for beautiful good things. Spirit helps us live. We experience great difficulties. We choose the good. Difficulties make us purer. We want to push not good things away. Not good things can not exist. The evil can not exist. Beautiful good things exist. The good exists.

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Ecuadorian
said on May 08, 2014

I AM FROM ECUADOR, AND MY COUNTRY WANTS TO EXPLOIT THE PETROLIUM IN YAZUNI NATIONAL PARK. AND I BELIEVE THAT MY COUNTRY CAN EXPLOIT THE PETROLIUM WITH RESPONSABILITY IN YAZUNI NATIONAL PARK, SOME PEOPLE DO NOT UNDERSTAND, BUT ECUADOR IS A POOR COUNTRY AND WE NEED TO EXPLOIT THE PETROLIUM IN YAZUNI TO GET MONEY. BECAUSE IN THIS CENTURY, THERE ARE CITIES THAT DO NOT HAVE WATER ALL THE TIME, IN SOME CITIES YOU CAN FIND WATER ONLY PER HOURS.  THERE IS A GROUP OF PEOPLE THE NAME IS YASUNIDOS, AND THEY COLLECTED SIGNATURES, BECAUSE THEY DO NOT LIKE TO EXPLOIIT THE PETROLIUM IN YAZUNI NATIONAL PARK, BUT I BELIEVE THAT THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEMS OF OUR COUNTRY. BESIDES MY COUNTRY WANTS TO PRESERVE MOST OF THE NATURE IN THAT PARK.

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johnny070792
said on May 11, 2014

That’s is a good things to protect the environment
because we breath the air from the environment so as a rule in my country its said cut one and plant ten.

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jmaia
said on April 24, 2015

Julia Hill is a courajeous womam. Other people must to do the same to protect the planet.

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dangphuocdat
said on April 01, 2017

Great! She’s very brave

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gharraavies
said on April 02, 2017

She is Crazy and brave woman!

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Dela
said on April 07, 2017

Protection of environment represents the vital mission for all of us, therefore we must try to perform in this important area according to our possibilities and in the different, even unusual ways as well!
Thanks Spotlight team for another excellent topic!
Greetings!