Environmentalist shares the love

Environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill may be best known as a tree-sitter, but she introduced herself as a “love muffin” when she appeared at Chico State University on April 22—Earth Day—as part of the campus’ Eco-Fest.

Hill, who in the late 1990s spent just over two years perched in an old-growth redwood tree named Luna to protest clear-cutting by Pacific Lumber Company, scheduled only 15 speaking engagements in 2006. She told the 150 people at the BMU Auditorium that she chose to make the university one of her stops due to the kindness and “energy” of Chico residents she worked with in the past.

Foreshadowing the underlying theme of her talk, Hill asked the audience to participate in an exercise: asking strangers what makes them love. “Would you want your last moment to be one of disconnection?” she asked, and she encouraged the audience “to be in devoted partnership with an unrelenting commitment to the purpose of life.”

Her talk quickly became a Q&A session. Audience members asked her opinion on sustainability ("Sustainability came out of a movement of people of privilege"), war tax resistance ("I’m not a war resister. … I’m a tax redirector and a peace stander") and her current projects (she sits on the board of Action Sports Environmental Coalition, among other activities).

Brett Dennen, a musician headlining Eco-fest, and Amira Diamond, a friend of Hill’s and associate director of the nonprofit organization Circle of Life, opened with a guitar-violin duet. Following Hill’s appearance, Dennen played in the BMU vestibule.