Media Diet

Julia Butterfly Hill

| November/December 1999

'Being in this tree has allowed me
to realize that there's beautiful music all around us
if we just take time to listen.'

Since she lives 180 feet above the ground, it's fitting that Julia Butterfly Hill should have a lofty goal. In late 1997, Hill, then 23, climbed up a 1,000-year-old redwood in Northern California's Humboldt County, determined to keep a local lumber business from cutting it down. She expected that her 'tree-sit' would last at most a month. But when Pacific Lumber refused to spare the redwood (now called Luna) and its surrounding grove, Hill decided to settle in for the long haul. Nearly two years later, that's where she remains, living on a pair of tarp-covered platforms.

'I found truth in the presence of ancient beings like this redwood,' Hill says of the first time she saw the 200-foot-tall tree. 'Being in a forest of ancient beings this big washed away my false reality of society and refocused my life. I knew I had to do something.'

Hill, the most visible of a small but impassioned tribe of American tree sitters, is not sure when her vigil will end, but she is hopeful that the ancient tree will not be destroyed. Climbing out onto one of Luna's limbs for a better connection, she spoke via cell phone with associate editor Andy Steiner.

What do you do all day up there? Are you ever bored?
My day is a lot like someone's day in an office. On average, I'm on the phone for 8 to 10 hours doing interviews and talking to rallies and schools. I also write about a hundred letters a week. I used to answer every letter that came to me, but it's just not humanly possible anymore. I do respond to the letters from children. My hope is that I can encourage their connection to the earth.

How are the letters delivered to you? Do you have a mailbox?
I have a bag attached to a rope that I send down once a week for mail and supplies.

Does your support team ever send up books?
I use what little time I have to read these days staying on top of the reality of the world in which we live. Most of it is research-style reading, things like pamphlets and newspaper articles.