Planting For The Future


During Judi Bari's short life she fought to protect the West Coast's redwood trees. Pixabay

When I was an energetic child in Hebrew school I was taught a story from the Talmud about an old man planting a tree. When the old man was questioned for planting the tree that he would not live long enough to see grow, his response was short and simple, “The tree is not for me, it is for my descendants.” To create a movement that would bring about change that he would never see characterized a new kind of hero for me. No longer did I want to be just a superhero — I wanted to be a selfless one. Planting the seed for future generations embodied what I wanted to do with my life and what Judi Bari, an environmental activist, had done with hers.

Judi Bari was a strong-headed woman in a time when women were patronized. It was about 10 years after the civil rights era when her rise to activism in a male-dominated organization for the environment truly arose. Bari strongly believed that the environment should not come at the cost of capitalism. In 1988 Bari joined the nonprofit Earth First! and became the critical organizer of events. Earth First! was a radical organization that aimed to protect the redwood forests in America through civil disobedience, machinery sabotage and road blockage. Judi Bari broke that radical approach. With a more pacifistic agenda, Bari enhanced the mission, “No Compromise in the Defense of Mother Earth!” by advocating through education in colleges and sitting in trees to prevent the trees from being cut down. Bari took the first step to solving any problem: educating and fighting apathy. Even though she had a single voice in the matter, her voice rang loud, inspiring future generations to advocate for earth. (Photo: Judi Bari outside the courthouse in Oakland, Calif., 1995. Wikipedia)

When the redwood trees were being cut down, Judi Bari fought to protect them. When she did not agree with the radicalism of Earth First!, she changed their approach to saving the environment. Judi Bari took a stand for what she believed. Although she became the target of a bomb blowing up in her car, after the accident she still stood by what she believed was right. The redwood forests are still around because Judi Bari, and many other activists, took a stand to protect them. The most heroic thing someone can accomplish is selflessness. Judi Bari was a selfless woman fighting for what she wanted to leave behind for the future generations until her death in 1997. There is a famous saying, “If you know the world is going to end, plant a tree.” I hope when my world ends I will have planted forests of hope for future generations — just like Judi Bari.