For 738 days Julia Butterfly Hill lived in the canopy of an ancient redwood tree, called Luna, to help make the world aware of the plight of ancient forests. Her courageous act of civil disobedience gained international attention for the redwoods as well as other environmental and social justice issues and is chronicled in her book The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods.
Julia, with the great help of steelworkers and environmentalists, successfully negotiated to permanently protect the 1,000 year-old tree and a nearly three-acre buffer zone. Her two-year vigil informed the public that only 3% of the ancient redwood forests remain and that the Headwaters Forest Agreement, brokered by state and federal agencies and Pacific Lumber/Maxxam Corporation, will not adequately protect forests and species.
On December 18, 1999 Julia Butterfly Hill, then 26, came down to a world that recognized her as a heroine and powerful voice for the environment. Her courage, commitment and profound clarity in articulating a message of hope, empowerment, and love and respect for all life has inspired millions of people worldwide. Julia reflects,
“By standing together in unity, solidarity and love we will heal the wounds in the earth and in each other. We can make a positive difference through our actions.
Julia Hill chose the name Butterfly while in her childhood years and like her namesake she has undergone a great metamorphosis. She grew up in a deeply religious family as the daughter of a traveling, evangelical minister that later settled in Arkansas. In 1996 she suffered nearly fatal injuries in an auto accident. During close to a year of medical treatment and recovery, she had time to reassess her purpose in life. Two weeks after being released by her doctors, she headed west on a journey of self-discovery. She had no particular destination, but her first sight of the ancient redwoods overwhelmed her with awe. "When I entered the majestic cathedral of the redwood forest for the first time, my spirit knew it had found what it was searching for. I dropped to my knees and began to cry because I was so overwhelmed by the wisdom, energy and spirituality housed in this holiest of temples."
Julia and other forest activists founded Circle of Life to inspire, support and network individuals, organizations, and communities so together we can create environmental and social solutions that are rooted deeply in love and respect for the interconnectedness of all life. We envision a sustainable culture that honors biological and cultural diversity. Through education and outreach, we promote efforts to protect and restore the Earth.
Julia has been able to appeal to diverse audiences because she speaks from the heart with a moral conviction that brings people to tears and calls them to action.