Some of the best Planet Patriot Authors are featured below. The links contain biographical sketches, a bibliography, favorite quotes for each author, and related websites for each.
See also additional Planet Patriots listed on the Environmental Holidays page, including John Burroughs, Robinson Jeffers, Charles Darwin, Hazel Wolf, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Pete Seeger, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William O. Douglas, and Asa Gray, as well as those listed on our Environmentalists on Stamps page and our page on Environmentalists in Song.
People Who Tell the Truth
Quotations Selected by, and Portrait art by Bruce Shetterly
John Quigley defiantly perched in a 400-year-old oak tree near Santa Clarita for more than two months, beginning on November 1, 2002. Although tree-sitters have been commonplace in forest debates, this is one of the few in an urban setting. The tree is slated to be cut down to make room for a highway that will provide access to more housing developments in this rapidly growing city. Quigley was finally forcibly removed from the tree after 71 days, on January 10, 2003 by Sheriff's deputies working under a court order.
Quigley's action directly confronts a key question: How do we balance growth with our need to protect the environment?
Quigley's answer seems eminently reasonable, and clearly places him in the fold of Planet Patriots:
"If we were to take care of the areas that are already developed, if we were to invest in our cities so that people wouldn't want to move farther and farther out, we wouldn't have the kind of pressures that we're having on the environment. I hope that the folks in this community will reflect on that, because there is an irony here. As a society, we have focused so much on convenience at all costs. Most of the planning that's been done is just about how much money and how fast. We need a fundamental shift in our perspective."According to the LA Times, Up close, Quigley looks like a man who's been living out in the harsh wind and sun for weeks, his clothes smudged with bark dust, his face a deep, parched reddish-brown. He looks like a man sorely out of place in the tidy suburbs. But he said he understood the suburban dream, to live in nice homes with nice backyards in nice communities.
"To me, this tree represents the American dream as it should be. It's about respecting our heritage," he said. "In many ways, we don't respect our elders, both our human elders and nature, what came before us. I think we need to undertake a fundamental shift in our values, to recognize that everything is a subset of the environment, and if we do not respect the environment, we're contributing to our own demise."
When he first climbed up into the tree on Nov. 1, Quigley thought he'd be down in a week, he said.
"Each day I was thinking, well, at least, at least. At least, the tree's going to live one more day. At least this is getting people to slow down and look at a tree," he said.That's the first step, he said.
"It starts with awareness and then you have to make a commitment to take action. I think ultimately it's about people who are sitting in their homes, doing their own thing, watching the news, having the courage to speak out and fight for things that matter. Maybe we need to start taking responsibility."
To developers, the old oak tree was referred to in paperwork as oak #419. Now people call it "Old Glory" and think about its age and what it means, Quigley said. Some tell him stories about it. A woman told him that her husband proposed to her in the tree in 1942. Another woman told him she's been walking by it every day for the past 55 years.Quigley said people need to hear such stories from those who remember the history of places. They need to notice their surroundings and treasure them, he said.
"We're all in the process of evolving. I would say the one thing that is unacceptable is apathy. If all a person does is commit to becoming more aware and to taking more action, then they've begun the process.""People think that since they've got me out of the tree, it's over with," he said. "It's not over yet." Friday's dramatic eviction, which was ordered by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, brought an end to a vigil that has prevented the developer from moving the tree out of the way of a county-mandated road-widening project. For many, Quigley's protest also came to symbolize the broader struggle against an onrush of suburban development. Deputies and county firefighters took nearly two hours to remove Quigley. He offered no resistance. In fact, he said, he and the extraction team got along fine, because they were all experienced climbers. "Everyone was cool," Quigley said. "I just said, 'Look you're going to have to cut me out. And if you do, I've said all along I'm a practitioner of Gandhian, nonviolent principles.' " Quigley, a Pacific Palisades resident who holds a number of part-time environmental jobs, said Saturday that he hoped the nonviolent protest would inspire others to act on their beliefs. "In a [conservative] community like Santa Clarita, people might have been afraid of doing something like this for fear of being labeled an extremist," he said. "I hope they see that if they're going to make anything happen, they're going to have to get involved." ? ? ? ?"I said they'd have to come and drag me out, and they did," Quigley said. "It's not over yet ... This is about participating in democracy. It's time we all got off our couches and took a stand in what we believe in." The action came hours after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered Quigley to end his months-long effort to save the tree that stands in the path of the Santa Clarita Valley's suburban development boom. As protesters booed and children sang "This Land Is Your Land," a firetruck hoisted a platform ladder near Quigley's temporary home high in the branches shortly before 9 p.m. An official on the ladder maneuvered through the foliage and handed him the judge's court order. Laing Homes had originally planned to cut down Old Glory, but decided to move it after Quigley climbed into its branches Nov. 1, attracting worldwide news coverage and support from Republican moms, wistful hippies, schoolkids and movie stars. Old Glory's supporters are convinced that the sprawling oak will not survive a move. Nonetheless, Laing Regional President Bill Rattazzi was at his office Saturday trying to find a company that would haul the oak to a preserve an eighth of a mile away. County officials say the company must widen the road that runs by the tree to accommodate a nearby housing development.
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