You could say that Jane Goodall's great adventure began in 1936 when she was two years old, and her father gave her a stuffed animal -- a chimpanzee named Jubilee after a real baby chimp just born in the London Zoo. Her parents were cautioned about how this toy might be the source of bad dreams. Instead, it was the beginning of Dr. Jane's life-long love for living nature and its creatures, and the starting point for her pioneering work observing the chimpanzees of Tanzania. You can see this bond already formed in the amazing and deeply moving photograph of the toddler Dr. Jane holding Jubilee on the Jane Goodall Institute website. Just look for it at Janegoodall.org.
It's here that you'll also find out about Dr. Jane's innovative project for young people called "Roots and Shoots." It is, quite literally, a grass-roots environmental and humanitarian program the mission of which is: "to foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs and to inspire each individual to take action to make the world a better place for the environment, animals and the human community." To actively engage in this transformative work, "Roots and Shoots" offers a range of possible projects that young people can take on individually, in larger groups, and globally. There is something here for everyone -- whether it's building birdhouses or cleaning up a park or taking part in the international events that "Roots and Shoots" helps to sponsor.
Dr. Jane's basic approach to all of these activities, and to life itself, is one of profound mindfulness. To get acquainted with this technique of observation and respectful involvement, you might begin by reading her account of a day spent with the chimpanzee families that she has written about so eloquently in her books for adults and children. She begins the day, beneath their nest in the trees, and watches them as they wake up; she doesn't bring lunch but eats what they eat, moves when and where they move, through their day until they nest again at night. She writes: "Living under the skies, the forest is for me a temple, a cathedral made of tree canopies and dancing light, especially when it's raining and quiet. That's heaven on earth for me." And it's this sense of awe and purpose that is waiting to nourish the growth, the "roots and shoots," of a new generation.
Copyright 2003 © John Cech
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Tuesday, 12-Jul-2005 15:12:20 EDT