Activist Julia Butterfly Hill will speak in the Commonwealth this week. In the late 1990s, Hill spent two years living in an ancient California redwood tree to save it from destruction by logging companies. She made her name in the environmental community during that tree sit, and has continued similar acts of civil disobedience since then.
Today, Hill is still advocating similar forms of social disobedience. She didn’t have access to a cell phone or social media in 1997 when she was living in the tree, but says these tools have had an amazing effect on recent protests.
“The stories we tell play a very powerful and profound role in the world that we create. And having this access to storytelling in a way that’s real time with real experiences hitting global within moments is making a huge difference in people being able to reclaim their communities and their world.”
Hill says in order to become engaged, it’s important to realize that no action is too small.
“So for me, the crucial element, whether we’re talking about doing direct action out in the street or just doing direct action in our home, recognizing that every time we make a choice we change the world,” she said. “Because no change happens in a vacuum. It is literally scientifically impossible to make no difference.”
Hill says demonstrations like tree sits are still relevant today, and lots of significant changes have happened throughout history because small groups of people have been willing to physically stand up and take risks for what they believe.