At age 33, activist Julia Butterfly Hill is already an icon of the environmental movement. Following a car crash in 1996, Hill found herself in Northern California, seeking direction. There she became enamored of the towering, ancient redwood trees living there, and was stirred to action when she found that they were about to be felled by the Pacific Lumber Company. So Julia climbed a 180-foot tall, 600-year-old redwood and lived there for 738 days in a four-by-six foot shelter built with the help of the Earth First! volunteers who drew her into their fold. She called the tree Luna. After her years in the tree, the lumber company relented, and Luna, and a three-acre buffer zone, were preserved. The tree was attacked by a chainsaw-wielding lunatic in 2001, but it seems to be recovering. Hill's environmental dedication is legendary, and she continues to inspire and motivate through her own organization, Circle of Life, committed to supporting the interconnectedness of all living things. Luna, a movie by Participant Productions, based on Hill's book, The Legacy of Luna, is in the works.
E Magazine: What is the most pressing environmental issue in 2007?
Julia Butterfly Hill: The most pressing environmental issue in 2007 is actually our disconnected consciousness. All the incredibly devastating issues facing our world today are actually symptoms of a disease. I call this disease "Separation Syndrome." When you rip a plant from its roots of connection it begins to die. As we have ripped out the roots of our consciousness of connection, so too are we beginning to die. The environmental crisis is the outward manifestation of what is inside of us. The outer landscape is the reflection of our inner landscape. A simple way to see that none of us are immune or free from this disease is to look at a prevalent statement like when we say we are "going to throw something away." Where is "away?" There is no such thing. We are all culpable in this disease. Therefore, we all can become the healers our society so desperately needs by looking at every single thought, word, and action, and asking ourselves, "Is this healing or hurting, restoring or destroying?" and shifting our choices to be more connected to this phenomenal, interconnected, sacred web of life of which we are a part.
What is your greatest environmental fear and why?
I do not choose to waste one precious moment of my life dying in fear. Fear kills off the life of the...