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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

I will be a hummingbird

I will be a hummingbird

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, August 5, 2019/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, sustainability, art and design, environment

    Wangari Maathai with Tree Sapling (credit: Carolina Women's Center)

Years ago, I was part of a team in Kenya tasked with designing a reforestation program in a rural district. In a nation where ninety percent of the population still used wood as their primary energy source, trees were essential and deforestation was rampant. During my travels around the country, I encountered a remarkable woman--Wangari Maathai--and we became colleagues in discussing strategies for creating an effective forest restoration program there. We came from vastly different backgrounds but shared a common bond of training in the biological, ecological, and environmental sciences. We got along exceptionally well.

Wangari was a "presence" in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa with her powerful will and strong environmental voice. She has now passed away but her tree planting program--The Greenbelt Movement--lives on. The organization encouraged women to grow native tree seedlings and plant them around their villages. Her movement became a development model for what is possible in Africa if you empower women. She eventually won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work.

Wangari Maathai embodied what the Dalai Lama and others have recognized as 'the power of one'. She illustrated this by telling a story to an international gathering, I will be a hummingbird:



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