When I go to the Bioneers Conference in the elegant Frank Lloyd Wright buildings that compose Marin Civic Center each October, it seems to take a couple of months to process the brain and heart food. Good stuff!
This time Jane Goodall caught my attention, I bought one of her books, Reason for Hope, and took the attached photo. She makes sure anybody who supports her gets a photo so she can track you. For good purposes. Presently, her Roots and Shoots program, part of the Jane Goodall Institute, boasts 150,000 young people in 120 countries working to protect endangered species of animals, educate people on HIV AIDS and family planning and, oh, yes, in their spare time do some CPR (conservation, preservation, restoration, coined by Sierra Club Founder and icon, David Brower), for Planet Earth. Go Roots and Shoots!
Just what the planet doctor ordered: engaging young people in the humongous work ahead to overcome the effects of the royal trashing we’ve been giving the planet for lo these many years.
Jane’s Reasons for Hope (from her site)
“It is easy to be overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness as we look around the world. We are losing species at a terrible rate, the balance of nature is disturbed, and we are destroying our beautiful planet. We have fear about water supplies, where future energy will come from – and most recently the developed world has been mired in an economic crisis. But in spite of all this I do have hope. And my hope is based on four factors.
The Human Brain
Firstly, we have at last begun to understand and face up to the problems that threaten us and the survival of life on Earth as we know it. Surely we can use our problem-solving abilities, our brains, to find ways to live in harmony with nature. Many companies have begun “greening” their operations, and millions of people worldwide are beginning to realize that each of us has a responsibility to the environment and our descendants. Everywhere I go, I see people making wiser choices, and more responsible ones.
The Indomitable Human Spirit
My second reason for hope lies in the indomitable nature of the human spirit. There are so many people who have dreamed seemingly unattainable dreams and, because they never gave up, achieved their goals against all the odds, or blazed a path along which others could follow. The recent presidential election in the US is one example. As I travel around the world I meet so many incredible and amazing human beings. They inspire me. They inspire those around them.
The Resilience of Nature
My third reason for hope is the incredible resilience of nature. I have visited Nagasaki, site of the second atomic bomb that ended World War II. Scientists had predicted that nothing could grow there for at least 30 years. But, amazingly, greenery grew very quickly. One sapling actually managed to survive the bombing, and today it is a large tree, with great cracks and fissures, all black inside; but that tree still produces leaves. I carry one of those leaves with me as a powerful symbol of hope. I have seen such renewals time and again, including animal species brought back from the brink of extinction.
The Determination of Young People
My final reason for hope lies in the tremendous energy, enthusiasm and commitment of young people around the world. As they find out about the environmental and social problems that are now part of their heritage, they want to right the wrongs. Of course they do — they have a vested interest in this, for it will be their world tomorrow. They will be moving into leadership positions, into the workforce, becoming parents themselves. Young people, when informed and empowered, when they realize that what they do truly makes a difference, can indeed change the world. We should never underestimate the power of determined young people.
I meet many young people with shining eyes who want to tell Dr. Jane what they’ve been doing, how they are making a difference in their communities. Whether it’s something simple like recycling or collecting trash, something that requires a lot of effort, like restoring a wetland or a prairie, or whether it’s raising money for the local dog shelter, they are a continual source of inspiration. My greatest reason for hope is the spirit and determination of young people, once they know what the problems are and have the tools to take action.
So let’s move forward in this new millennium with hope, for without it all we can do is eat and drink the last of our resources as we watch our planet slowly die. Let’s have faith in ourselves, in our intellect, in our staunch spirit and in our young people. And let’s do the work that needs to be done, with love and compassion.”