Dr. Jane Goodall 
... A Reason for Hope 


Since Dr. Goodall is currently on tour, a direct interview could not be scheduled. This article was composed in part from her website, along with an interview with Jeanne McCarty by Darby Davis 


When I was small and dreamed of going to Africa because I was in love with Tarzan, I was jealous of Tarzan’s Jane and thought she was a wimp. I would have made a much better mate for Tarzan. I wanted to go to Africa and live with animals and write books about them. My mother used to say to me, “Jane, if you really want something, and if you really work hard, if you take advantage of opportunities, and if you never give up, you will find a way.” 

“I believe the study of chimpanzees, while it has taught us a great deal about the place of chimpanzees in nature, has taught us an equal amount about the humans’ place in nature. It has made us a little humble. It has certainly made me a little humble because I realize that humans are not the only rational, thinking beings on the planet. And that we’re not the only creatures capable of altruism and self-sacrifice. 

“Chimpanzees differ from us genetically in the structure of the DNA by only just over one percent. Chimps can reason and solve problems. They have some idea of the future. And they can make plans, and perhaps most important are the similarities in the expression of emotions.

 “Chimpanzees are so like us, they blur the line once perceived as so sharp between humans on the one side and non-humans on the other. And that leads us to a new respect for all the other amazing non-human beings with whom we share this planet. 

“When I suddenly realized the plight of the chimpanzees around the world, both in the wild and in captivity, I knew that I must leave my forest paradise — although I do believe I keep some of it inside, the peace of the forest — and travel around the world to raise people’s awareness — not only about the plight of chimpanzees, but about the plight of our poor old planet. And ways in which we as humans need to change to live in greater harmony with the planet. And to try to make people realize that what they do as individuals truly makes a difference. 

“I believe very strongly that it is desperately important for children to be taught to be respectful of all life. I believe the most important message to all humanity is that every single individual matters, including non-humans. Every single one of us has a role to play in this life. And every single one of us can make a difference. 

July 14, 2000 marked the 40th anniversary of Dr. Jane Goodall’s landmark chimpanzee research at Gombe, Tanzania. The longest running research project of its kind, Jane’s work at Gombe forever altered the very definition of “humanity” and continues to yield ground-breaking results. In celebration of this unprecedented milestone, the Jane Goodall Institute is presenting “Reason for Hope”, a multi-city tour which began in the spring of 2000 and will continue until mid-summer, 2001. 

The objectives of the “Reason for Hope” celebrations are: to increase awareness about JGI and its goals; to build ongoing support through the establishment of Base Camps at “Reason for Hope” destinations; and to raise funds for JGI programs. By accomplishing these objectives, the Jane Goodall Institute will educate, inspire and encourage individuals who share the Institute’s mission to make the world a better place for all living things. 

More than any other person alive today, Dr. Jane Goodall exemplifies the power of the individual to make a difference. “Reason for Hope” is bringing a series of high-profile events to cities worldwide with the ultimate goal of motivating individuals from all walks of life to make a difference in their own communities. The 15-month “Reason for Hope” celebration will feature Jane Good-all’s participation in public lectures, major media appearances, fund-raising events, and Roots & Shoots Festivals celebrating the achievements of young people to help people, animals and the environment. 

Dr. Jane Goodall believes that the future of the world lies in the hands of young people. Along the shores of the Indian Ocean in 1991, she and sixteen Tanzanian students decided they wanted to help make their community and the world a better place. From that idea Dr. Goodall began Roots & Shoots, an environmental and humanitarian program for youth. The Mission of Roots & Shoots 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 and make the world a better place. 

Awareness: Tell me about Roots & Shoots. 
Jeanne: “What we try to teach in R&S is the very youngest. We teach the whole range, actually toddlers on up to adults. We teach this philosophy that every person can make a difference, and it is important to do so in your local community as well as globally. We have teachers, not only teachers, but adult leaders, bring together groups of people and we ask them to take the pulse of their community. In doing that they can assess what is happening with the people, the animals and the environment, and then they design projects around those three themes. They can do one project that addresses the connectedness of the three, or they can do three separate projects. In looking at people, the animals and the environment we hope to teach them that it is all connected. That is our goal. 

“When I see kids make some sort of contribution, like plan a butterfly garden, or build a naturescape or paint the trashcans, then it becomes so important to them — you don’t see so much destruction.  It’s really theirs and they participate fully. 

“We have a school in the Bay area that decided for their Roots & Shoots project they wanted to reduce the amount of trash they were producing every day at lunch. First they studied it and figured out how much trash they were producing. Then they decided to bring every item in their lunch in a reusable container. And they’ve done it!  They did a skit at one of our summits. At the morning circle, they would randomly critique someone’s lunch, like if they wrapped an orange in cellophane paper, that wasn’t needed because it was already wrapped in nature’s wrapping. 

“The principal said she was a little nervous at first and wondered what the parents would think. Some of the parents became inspired and called her.  One parent said she had just purchased a case of juice boxes and asked what she should do. The principal suggested she use those and then not purchase any more. The parents got excited and came onboard. When the message comes from young people, we have to listen. They are so passionate about it.” 

Awareness: How long have you worked with R&S?
Jeanne: “I have been in R&S for two years and have seen the program quadruple in number. The idea is such an easy one and we are celebrating our tenth year. I think the time now is so ripe and it is really catching on.  So many new groups are being formed.” 

Awareness: How many R&S groups are currently active? 
Jeanne: “We have 2600 active groups in 67 countries, with about 1200 of those in the United States.” 

Awareness: If someone wants to start a R&S group, what steps do they take? Do they call your office? 
Jeanne: “Yes they would call (800) 592-5263. Or they can contact Hans Cole, Deputy Director, Roots & Shoots, USA at (510) 420-0746 or e-mail hcole@janegoodall.org . We have an office in Berkeley, California as well as in Silver Springs, Maryland. They can also go online to our website and register.” 

Awareness: Are you having any events soon in the Southern California area? 
Jeanne: “Yes, we have a lot of active groups in Southern California and are having two R&S festivals in the Los Angeles area in May and June.” 

Awareness: Are these festivals for anyone to participate in or only for current R&S members? 
Jeanne: “They are for both. We generally do something open to the general public. What we usually do is to invite our groups in the area first and they often set up displays of their projects or prepare presentations.  What we want to do first of all is to educate the community about what the mission of R&S is and celebrate what the groups in the area have done.  We invite others to join in the celebration so they can learn and be a part of it as well. In one of the events we will be doing a Teacher Workshop. Awareness: What other projects are you currently involved in? Jeanne: “Another important project we have just started is a R&S for young children. We had groups in pre-school but we didn’t have our materials geared directly toward toddlers up to pre-K so we have partnered with a company called www.earlychildhood.com  in Monterey. They are an education company working with us on curriculum and activities specifically for young children. 

When anyone with a group from toddlers to pre-K signs up and designates it’s R&S for young children, they receive not only all of our membership information but also monthly mailings that include curriculum and project ideas, stories, newsletters etc. With Jane’s interest in early childhood, this has become so important. It’s such an important age. I think when we reach them at the youngest level, then it becomes a part of who they are.”

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