"Surrounded by these huge, ancient giants, I felt the film covering my senses from the imbalance of our fast-paced, technologically dependent society melt away." And with these words, an environmental activist was born. Julia "Butterfly" Hill then spent two years living in a redwood tree named Luna, and THE LEGACY OF LUNA is the story of her extreme campaign to save it.
It is rare that you read such an unexpurgated New Age-y memoir about an event that literally changed the face of a particular aspect of environmental activism. Sure, there had been tree-sits before ("tree-sits" being the act of human beings staying in a tree in order to keep it from being cut down by logging companies), but usually one tree was manned by several groups of individuals taking turns staying in the tree for hours at a time. But this time one single person took on the daunting task of living 24/7 in a tree in order to save its life. And Hill, the daughter of a missionary who grew up with little and simply prayed one day that her purpose in life would come to her, ended up with a very serious vocation.
Hill did survive a great many storms, angry responses from the people who are paid to rip apart national forests, and other humiliations to make her point. The nightmarish destruction that she watched, the environmental hazards creating by companies' "clear-cutting" (taking down all trees in one particular area) lots of redwoods, will surely stir up some pain and anguish from those readers who are tuned into these horrors already. I am not sure if those not already committed to such fights will be interested in this story --- but perhaps the story of Luna and its savior, Julia Butterfly Hill (all activists give themselves names to protect their identities --- Hill chose "Butterfly"), which is a very inspiring one, will encourage other brave women (and men) to take control and do something about a major national treasure, the great Redwood forests.
Written with extreme honesty, Hill's story is a great American tale, putting her in a class with major American activists who have put themselves at risk to move the nation to action.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on April 3, 2001