November 12, 2018

I was born a conservationist without knowing why.  Among other groups, I joined Sierra Club and Zero Population Growth because I worried that we humans would destroy nature.    At some point in my life, and for reasons more instinctive than knowledge based, I shifted to understanding that nature would somehow manage to survive, and that we humans could not become smart enough to save our species.  So be it.

I loved the word “Earthroots” from the first time I heard it at a Kelp Festival in Laguna Beach.  It just sounded so right.  I slurped the delicious soup that people from Earthroots had brought to the Festival, and I learned about the variety of programs and places that Earthroots teaches.

Envisioned and founded by Jodi Levine-Wright, Earthroots Field School offers “classes, workshops and lectures year round for toddlers, homeschoolers, teens, adults, private and public schools, scout groups and summer camps. Outdoor classrooms include local organic farms, gardens, wilderness parks, green kitchens, beaches, and creeks. These programs are an exploration of our natural world and extends into our connection with all things.”

The actual home of Earthroots is picturesquely nestled in 39 acres of Big Oak Canyon.  It is not only surrounded by Cleveland National Forest, but has a natural creek whose pure water runs through it the whole year.  I was able to see this incredible piece of nature for myself when I joined a group of volunteers for an afternoon.   I have seen other parts of the Field School’s land through various videos on their website at

I felt such a strong connection to Earthroots Field School and the type of knowledge it is passing on to younger generations that I decided to support Earthroots through including it in my trust.  While there are many worthwhile conservation organizations, Earthroots appealed to me because it is local, relatively small, and teaches a connection to nature that is far wider and deeper than others.  Optimistically, it has a 200 year plan.

I had fallen in love with Bali from the first time I visited it in 1989.  There was something about both the nature and the culture of the island that made me love it.  When I returned to Bali the last time in 2010, I arranged to visit a new school called the Green School, then only one year old.  I knew I was seeing something I would have loved to attend as a student.

The Green School is an international school with buildings made of bamboo that let in more light and air than you would believe possible.   The students, gathered internationally, learn in a totally different way than any other school I ever saw.  Best of all, they learn to respect nature.  That was such a welcome departure to me from the age-old reliance on conquering nature, bending it to the needs of humans who feel somehow superior to nature.  In these days of climate change caused by the overpopulation and wastefulness of humans, there is either denial, or a vague belief that humans will find technologies to neutralize the damage to our earth.

Raised by parents who only went outdoors when indoors was not continuous,  I found my own love of nature, and connection to it perhaps through Girl Scout camps, and undoubtedly to what  was to a child a huge amount of land in back of where I grew up and played.  It was actually a buffer zone between our houses and an airport, but to me, it was a vast untouched wilderness where I could wander and wonder to my heart’s content.  And it did indeed forever capture my heart.

At the age when I think of what legacy I am leaving behind, I first of all think of the high hill in Santa Barbara where I walked and talked to the hills and promised them I would fight as best I could to keep them from being destroyed in a planned housing development.  The Planning Commission listened to me and turned down the development in about 1980.  My name appears nowhere after all these years, but now, 38 years later, that hill still stands unmolested and even remarkably unchanged as Elings Park after other conservationists were able to finish what I had begun.



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