LOVE IN ACTION! The Force that Motivates Julia Butterfly Hill

By Karen Klaus, Director of Development, Operation Food Search


What is the force that would keep someone attached to a tree for two years?  The answer for Julia Butterfly Hill is love!


It wasn’t love however that brought her to the tree.  It was her soul searching for purpose and her youthful naiveté that landed her in the canopy of an ancient redwood – 180 feet up above the ground on a 4’ X 6’ platform in the dwindling Redwood Forest.  It was love that made her stay for 738 days in a tree known as “Luna.”  During this journey, she learned that only 3 percent of our majestic Redwoods remained.  Her love in action prevented Luna from the irreversible fate of being destroyed, and served as the catalyst for the successful negotiation to permanently protect three surrounding acres.


“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 Butterfly Hill


Her life in the tree was not without pain or struggle.  She braved life-threatening elements, including two-weeks of sleet and hail from the ravishing storms of El Niño, and day and night threats by loggers who shouted intimidating obscenities and tried to scare her down with helicopters and by cutting off her supplies.


“The most difficult challenge I faced, however, was watching the forest around me being destroyed.”  Hill overcame the anger that began to consume her through prayer and love.  “I would have come down out of that tree if I had stayed angry,” she says. “Love is more powerful than rage.  Love and forgiveness.”


Love transformed her to a path of service.  The attention brought on by her courageous actions gave her an international platform to speak about environmental issues and have inspired millions around the globe to take action in their own communities.


A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Julia when she was in St. Louis to support Venus Envy, a festival featuring female artists.  While here, Chef Dave Owens created a special raw foods meal in her honor.  I noticed that Julia reached into her purse to pull out the cloth napkin and the eating utensils she takes with her wherever she goes, a small action to save resources in all aspects of her life.  She walks the talk!


Knowing she would be back in St. Louis for a mutual friend’s wedding, I sent her some information about Operation Food Search and asked if she would mind doing something with our organization.  After reading about our green work, rescuing food no longer saleable, yet safe, nutritious and edible to feed the hungry, she responded, “Yes – love in action!  I’m all over it!”


“I am truly impressed by the actions of Operation Food Search to help those in need of daily sustenance while at the same time implementing sustainability programs on so many levels of the organization.  Their Furniture and Metal to Food initiatives offer an innovative solution for diverting tons of unwanted furniture and metal from landfills while generating income to feed the area hungry – that’s love in action!” said Hill.

To date, Furniture and Metal to Food has diverted more than 100,000 tons of furniture, metal, and fixtures from going into landfills.


Operation Food Search presents a luncheon, talk, and book signing with environmental activist, motivational speaker, and best-selling author, Julia Butterfly Hill at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 12 at Schlafly Tap Room, 2100 Locust in Midtown.  A special vegetarian/vegan luncheon will feature locally-sourced foods prepared by Local Harvest Café and vegan cupcakes by SweetArt.


Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door, and include a copy of Hill’s book, “The Legacy of Luna.”  Tickets are available by calling (314) 726-5355 X 23 or by visiting www.operationfoodsearch.org.