from the Bus Tour
Julia and the crew in front of the Planet Bus.
Photo by Alissa Hauser.
Julia Butterfly Hill spent
this spring touring the country in the Circle of Life eco-friendly “We
the Planet Tour” bus that ran on recycled vegetable oil, used
solar panels for on-board energy use, and incorporated water and
waste conservation measures. After getting back from this road trip,
Julia Butterfly Hill shared with Satya readers her thoughts on solution-based
Your “We The Planet Tour” was launched as a result of your
asking, “Why is everything that is good for our bodies, communities,
world, and planet called the ‘alternative’?” What
are a few ways we can change this perception?
We need to remind ourselves and others that what is good for us should
not be the “alternative.” In other words, we need to become
more vocal about our conscious choices and why we choose them. We also
need to think about creative, fun, beautiful ways to express these
choices. We need to remember to communicate with others based on how
they actually listen versus how we want or try to demand that they
listen. Most people listen through their eyes first, through the lens
of marketing and branding. For us to be successful, we actually have
to become more conscious of how we “package” and “market” our
message. Sometimes this feels distasteful to people, but if this is
the way people listen and we want them to listen, then it is incumbent
upon us to learn to “speak their language.”
As activists we often get overwhelmed with problems and their causes
and impacts. Your tour is about modeling solutions. What advice do
you have for activists toward creating solution-based strategies?
We have gotten so good at defining what we are against that what we
are against is beginning to define us. It is easy to point out problems,
but it takes creativity, commitment, and vision to design and implement
solutions. Solution strategies invite so many more people to want to
get involved than fear and problem based activism does. Fears and problems
make people good consumers. We want to be a part of liberating people
from a fear-based economy. Solution strategies lie in looking at the
best that your community has to offer, learning from and cultivating
from the best the world has to offer, and bringing them together to
create synergy. And the best strategies I have found always include
creativity, reuse of resources, and working across seeming barriers
and divides (we butterflies like to pollinate you know) to bring it
What are some ways animal activists can better reach out to environmentalists?
I feel it is incumbent upon all of us to look for what we need to learn
from each other and our many facets of what I believe is one movement—a
movement to create a world that works for all. I emphasize “learn” because
so often we only want to go tell other people what we want them to
know and be thinking about and working on, yet we rarely take the time
to see what their beliefs, knowledge, and needs are. I have found that
the best way to reach out to others is to begin by asking to learn,
and then offer ways that my beliefs and work might support them and
their work. This is what helps build effective collaboration. I am
asking to learn and offer to support long before I begin to ask them
to consider my views. And more often than not, people start wanting
to know more about my beliefs, views and work because of the way I
live my life. This approach models a whole new way of being for most
people that I think we need and, at the base of it all, I feel it is
what many of us long for.
For more information and to find out about Modeling the Solutions summer
events visit www.circleoflife.org.