Stories from Ground Support
Julia’s story is well known, but the Luna tree sit was way bigger than Julia Butterfly. It would not have been possible without the support crew and everyone who sustained the effort before, during, and after her part in it (way back to the beginning, when Luna was known by some as the Stafford Giant). Spruce and Shunka, both members of the Luna ground support team, have written recollections of their time working on the Luna tree sit.
- "What Luna has taught me" by Shunka Wakan
What Luna has taught me by Shunka Wakan:
As a member of Julia Butterfly Hill's Luna ground support team for the last full year of the tree sit, I got to know the role pretty well. I was pretty much an on-call supply runner, and with a life in town, I was available for a re-supply at any given moment. Being on the support team was the top priority in my life, and I was happy knowing that everything else revolved around when I'd be needed for the next supply run. I never felt lost because I knew what I was doing. That was a feeling I had not felt in years, between feeling dissatisfaction with life in college, and then more dissatisfaction with life as a minimum-wage worker after college. Before joining Julia’s ground support team I was unhappy, even to the point of tears, wondering if my entire life was going to be a minimum-wage nightmare unless, on an even more disturbing note, I sold out and went for the big bucks in Corporate America, which was actually never really an option for me, being the hard-core hippy that I was at the time (and some say still am!). I remember life seeming hopeless as I was denied 15 cents of my 25-cent raise because I talked too much on the job.
Leaving that reality and coming to Northern California was one of the best things I ever did, and then joining the Luna ground support team was the next best thing I did in my life. I decided to commit to doing ground support after witnessing the death of David Nathan “Gypsy” Chain on September 17, 1998. I witnessed this during my first action with North Coast Earth First!, which was to halt the illegal logging that Maxxam/Pacific Lumber was engaging in on the very steep slopes above Grizzly Creek and the Van Duzen River, immediately adjacent to Grizzly Creek State Park. I remember looking across the valley as we hiked up that day, seeing the rolling hills of forests and clear-cuts, and thinking out loud, “That’s why we’re here!” Seeing Gypsy’s life taken from him, and then seeing the corruption and lies of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department as they attempted to cover up this act of violence as a mere “accident” really opened my eyes to the situation our old-growth forests face. Since Julia and I had been friends for many years back in the hills of Arkansas and Missouri prior to the tree sit, it seemed natural that I should dig in and continue the work of the multitudes of people I was just learning about who had done so much to help save thousands of acres of these ancient wonders throughout the years. I was honored to be a part of something so real, so beautiful, and so revolutionary. And I still am...Seeing Luna preserved let me know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the power of love, and that with enough strength, endurance, commitment, and love, these trees can be saved.
I carry that with me now and believe in the power of love to save more trees before they’re all gone. It’s come down to this: Either save them or they’ll be gone, so we have one chance, one life, to save as many as we can for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. When we participate in saving old-growth trees, we’re also cleansing our spirits, accepting the teachings of the wise indigenous elders, and hoping to pass on many ancient gifts to the next generation.
It’s also about embracing life and tapping into the Source so that we can project peace and positivity in our daily lives, knowing full well the reality of the situation and taking it on, instead of running away from it physically, mentally, and spiritually. We’re tapping into something ancient, something sacred, and it’s working! We have to keep on growing so that all the petals of the Lotus flower can fully open up, so that our light can fully shine. The vampires can’t tolerate the shining light, so we shine and do the sacred work, re-supplying the tree sits, telling the truth, making the web stronger and bigger, and reaching to the far corners of the Earth with a message of action, hope, and unconditional love. This is what Luna has taught me, and I thank Julia a gazillion times over for everything she has done and is doing.
I’m in full solidarity. If not for her, none of this would be real for me; and it is, and we’re going to save Gypsy Mountain, and Freshwater, and the Mattole, and together, all of us, we’re going to save peace and unity. It is happening, so now we have to really get the word out and continue to be creative with our lives, coming up with great ideas and following through with them, completing the circle. We have to start living peace globally; I think the so-called “leaders” of this planet need to participate in a thorough non-violence training!
Every day is another chance to do direct action, in little ways, in big ways, in so many ways that I won’t even get into listing them. If we use our imaginations, we can make anything happen. It’s all so very real, and it’s all happening at once, at any given moment; so take non-violent direct action and remember your resolve constantly. Continue to grow along your path and see how much better you feel as you watch the world change around you, and you hear yourself saying things that are important and move people in a good direction. That’s how the connection is made. We all challenge each other to various tasks all the time anyway, so why not encourage more direct action and more help in projecting peace and positivity in our lives? People can be inspired to use their creativity for direct action and, as long as it’s non-violent, the web will get a little bit stronger... or much stronger...Keep the faith, resist, and rebel, in a good way.
With Love, Light, and Re-evolution,
How It Started by Spruce:
Hello, my name is Cole Fivenson, my forest name is Spruce, and I was part of the core of Julia's ground support crew during the Luna tree sit. I got involved in the tree sit in October 1997, when trees were being cut on the hillside above Stafford. Once I heard the sound of these ancient trees being cut down, I knew that I had to get involved in the direct action that would soon be taking place on the hillside. The town of Stafford had already been through a lot, having had a landslide destroy half the town the previous winter. Fellow activists were already climbing the hillside to see what we could do to stop the logging. Late one night word came in that an activist named Daniel had free climbed one of the largest trees on the hillside. There was a small group of us that knew that we had to do something for Daniel or he wouldn't last long in the tree without a platform or any supplies. It didn't take us long to get a platform built and to find the people who would help carry the platform and supplies up the hill. On the night of the full moon in October 1997, 11 activists, myself included, hiked up to the tree sit with the platform. While doing a full moon ceremony, we decided we needed to give the tree a name. One of the people in the group came up with the name Luna, and we all thought it was the perfect name. After about two months of supporting the many people who had sat in Luna's arms, I met someone who would become one of my greatest inspirations; she is one of greatest people that I have had the honor of knowing and working with. I first met Julia Butterfly at our base camp, I really didn't get to know her until later on. After the base camp closed, I started staying in a large house just outside of Arcata. There were a lot of activists living in the house, it was there that I got to know her better. We were running the tree sit from that house for a little while. Julia had already spent some time in Luna before she began her marathon sit of 738 days. I still remember the day she left to sit in Luna, she was walking away from the house with her backpack heavily weighed down with supplies. She then turned and said, “See you guys in two weeks!” As it turned out, she ended up spending more than two years in Luna. Being part of helping Luna and Julia, and meeting so many awesome people, was probably one of the best things I have ever been involved with in my life. I wouldn't trade the experiences I had for anything. To see Julia safely come down from Luna, and to know that Luna and the surrounding trees would be saved, was one of the best days of life. I would like to thank all the people who helped the Luna tree sit, from those who hiked supplies up the hill, to those who sent us donations. Without the help of all of you, this action wouldn't be where it is today. Thank you again, I love you all. -Spruce