A Tree Sitting -- In South Central LA?

Julia Butterfly and Joan Baez Join Urban Farmers to Block Eviction.

World-famous environmental heroine Julia Butterfly Hill has climbed another tree to stop a new injustice.

Julia gained global fame for living for two years in a redwood to prevent it from being chopped down. But this time, her perch is far from the quiet redwood forests of northern California. Today, she is in the middle of South Central Los Angeles.

The tree is in the middle of a huge urban farm, that feeds hundreds of residents and is slated to be bulldozed. And Julia is putting her body on the line, to give the community time to raise the funds to buy the land. The community needs $16 million. With the help of Julia and folk singer Joan Baez, the gap has narrowed this to about $4 million.

People who want to contribute can do so through the South Central Farmers site that operates the urban farm.

I know that some cynics will snicker and sneer. But I don't care. I am very proud of Julia.

We often criticize the eco-elite for standing aside or looking away when the urban poor are struggling for their rights. So many of us TALK about the need for progressives to get out of our single-issue silos (choice, environment, civil rights, etc.) and link arms with other struggles. But so few ever do.

Well, Julia Butterfly Hill is SHOWING the way forward for all of us with her actions. And -- in these days of oil shocks and obesity epidemics -- I can't imagine a more worthy cause than helping to ensure that urban folks can maintain a healthy connection with the land and guarantee their own food security.

Of course, I am not surprised that Julia has taken this stand. After her famous tree-sit (which ended in 1999), Julia moved to Oakland, California, where she has become a beloved and active resident.

In other words, though the media is just now figuring it out, Julia Butterfly long ago transformed herself from "forest goddess" to "urban heroine." I just hope the rest of us can learn to cross racial and issue divides as joyously and beautifully as she has done.

In the meantime, she and the Urban Farmers deserve our support. (Check out the information from Julia's colleagues at Circle Of Life, plus some news coverage, in the box at the top.)

Editor's Note: About 40 people were arrested Tuesday, June 13, as Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies evicted the protesters from the farm. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed disappointment that the owner rejected a $16 million offer to buy the property.


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