Jane Goodall’s “Seeds of Hope” peaks at an optimistic future through stories of success

by Liv Dorothy

If you’ve read Jane Goodall’s earlier works on her life with chimpanzees, be prepared for something completely different. Goodall’s Seeds of Hope is a reflection on her love of trees and plants with stories of how such seemingly insignificant parts of our landscape can inspire and is inspiring the next generation of planet warriors.

Goodall begins the book with her earliest memories of her childhood garden, which includes her favorite tree, “Beech,” in whom she reads books, does homework or just escapes into imagination. This is a familiar story, I had a similar spot in my backyard, a peach tree, with its branches arranged just right to accommodate a young child – at least until one of my brother’s friends tested the weight limit.

From the stories about young Jane, Seeds of Hope weaves personal stories about the experiences of Goodall and her many friends and colleagues around the world and their personal missions to save the planet by focusing on the foundation of the ecosystem – the flora. Readers will not only be inspired by the many tales of success – stopping unstainable logging or rescuing the last Cooke’s koki’o tree in Hawaii – but find themselves actually relating to the plants. Near the end, Goodall tells the story of pear tree that survived the fall of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. In a place were so few souls were pulled from the rubble alive, a lone pear tree, damaged and ugly, was pulled free and is now a feature of the memorial, where it still blooms annually. Representing the resiliency of Americans, the tree is still wounded and recovering, but still alive.

So many of the books, reports and news articles we read are just plain depressing. How will we ever reverse climate change? How will we stop agriculture practices that poison our water and abuse animals?  Will we ever understand the wealth of what is lost in every acre of rain forest destroyed? But Goodall’s book won’t leave you in despair. There are many people all over the planet fighting for Mother Earth, and some of them are winning.

Join Sierra Club Eagle View Group to discuss Seeds of Hope by Jane Goodall. The book club meets on May 18, 2015 at 6PM at the Moline Public Library.

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