On Dec. 10, 1997 environmental and social justice advocate Julia Butterfly Hill first climbed up the California redwood tree named Luna to save it from being logged in Humboldt County. She never imagined that she would end up living in that tree for a total of 738 days.
It is this dedication to ecological sustainability that Hill said she plans to bring to UCLA tonight, accompanied by her friend, fellow environmental activist and actress Daryl Hannah, known for her leading roles in films such as “Splash” and “Roxanne.”
The Earth Week discussion, which is cosponsored by Campus Events Commission and Ecology, Economy, Equity, will take place today from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in Ackerman Grand Ballroom and will focus on environmental issues, sustainability and the experiences of these two activists.
Hill finally came down in December of 1999 after her activism succeeded in saving Luna as well as a buffer zone of Humboldt redwoods that are now under the control of an ecologically responsible company.
In addition to her acting career, guest speaker Hannah has also committed herself to maintaining a sustainable lifestyle and, through her relationship with Hill, has continued to increase her ecological savvy.
“It’s a constantly evolving process,” Hannah said. “I’m always trying to incorporate the newest things that I’ve learned.”
Hannah, who also has an eco-friendly, small footprint house constructed from a salvaged barn and recycled materials, began working with Hill in 2006 after being called by her to help protest the eviction of 350 farmers and their families in South Central Los Angeles.
“She called me and said there was a need for some help,” Hannah said. “I have so much admiration for her. She’s just so clear and comes from such an ethical place.”
Hannah has since created her own video blog, “dhlovelife,” as a resource for those who wish to incorporate more sustainable practices into their daily lives.
“I love filmmaking, and I think it’s an incredible medium for storytelling,” Hannah said. “When I first started to work on my house, it was very difficult to find what things worked and what things didn’t. I decided to create a portal for access to that information. The video blogs were a good way to get people excited.”
Hannah and Hill said that they hope to engage the UCLA community during their discussion.
“Everything in life communicates, and as humans we’ve forgotten how to listen,” Hill said. “Nature is communicating back, and it’s getting louder and louder because we’re not paying attention.”
Tonight’s discussion will be moderated by Dr. Cully Nordby, academic director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and chair of the UCLA Sustainability Committee.
Nordby said that UCLA is good at embracing its responsibility to decrease energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and tonight’s discussion should inspire students to get involved in campus sustainability.
“Sustainability touches pretty much any topic you can think of,” Nordby said. “These two women are very much about empowering other people and getting them to find what they’re passionate about.”
Natalie Gaber, co-chair of E3 and recent UCLA alumna, said that she hopes that this discussion will provide an opportunity for students to learn from Hannah and Hill.
“They have devoted their lives to being activists, and they’re proof that one person really can make a difference,” Gaber said.
Through this discussion, Hannah said that she wants to appeal to college students.
“College students have such an amazing power to manifest a better future and a better present,” Hannah said. “Everyone has their own gift and their own part to play. For me it’s all interconnected.”