ROOTS AND SHOOTS
Visit the Roots & Shoots College web site."Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light they can break through brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds and thousands of roots and shoots, hundreds and thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls.
On the shores of the Indian Ocean in February 1991, Roots & Shoots was born. A group of 16 secondary school students from eight different schools gathered on the verandah of Dr. Jane's house in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Jane had been talking to the students at various schools, and it had become clear to her that many students were fascinated with animal behavior and environmental concerns, but had no classes in school that covered those subjects. To rectify the problem, each school chose a few representatives to join Jane to decide how to bring these subjects into the students' lives through out-of-school activities.
That first morning there was much discussion on chimpanzees and the fact that they had personalities, could reason and use tools, had close family bonds, and felt emotions. The students decided that the qualities existed in many other animals as well - including domestic animals. This led to a discussion of how much cruelty was involved in animal husbandry and in hunting and poaching of wild animals. The students were also keen to learn more about environmental issues, especially those around Dar es Salaam.
Dr. Goodall had long wanted to share her knowledge and concerns with children - and here, at last, was her opportunity. The 16 students went back to their respective schools with the task of forming clubs with other interested young people.
Roots & Shoots has been spreading around the world ever since - through the enthusiasm of individual students and teachers who care about making the earth a better place to live.
The organization that began with one group of students in East Africa has grown to over 1,000 registered groups in 50 countries throughout the world. There are Roots & Shoots groups in almost every US state! Roots & Shoots enables young people from the pre-school to university level to continue to coordinate projects locally that promote care and concern for the environment, animals, and human communities. Through constructive activities, the participants of Roots & Shoots groups all over the world become more aware of how their actions affect their local community and the environment as a whole.
See Roots & Shoots Activities and Membership information for more information on this exciting program and how you can get involved.
Welcome to the first ever on-line edition of the Roots & Shoots Network Newsletter!
In Gombe, I get up at 6:45 am or an hour earlier if I'm going to un-nest the chimps. Breakfast is usually a piece of bread and a cup of coffee. From my house on the beach I can get to the chimps wherever they are. Un-nesting them means that you clamber to where you left them the night before, sit beneath the nest and wait for movement. They'll get up slowly one after the other, sit for a while, then wander off and start to feed.
My favorite day is spent following a mother and her family until evening. The most wonderful thing about fieldwork, whether with chimps, baboons or any other wildlife, is waking up and asking yourself, "What am I going to see today?"
I don't bother with lunch when I'm out. Some of the wild fruit chimps eat are quite tasty when ripe, though most are horribly astringent. There isn't really anything that I've ever craved when living in the bush. I've been lucky in that it's very easy for me to adjust. My one luxury is music: Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Mahler, Sibelius, and so on.
It can be exhausting climbing high, far and fast. Around 3 pm you feel very weary because of spending a lot of the day on your tummy, crawling, with vines catching your hair.
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. I can't imagine going through life without being tuned into the mystical side of nature. People are too busy nowadays.
At dusk, the chimps nest. It's lovely in the sunset after a hot day. The birds sing, it's quiet. The mother will play with her babies, they'll play up in the branches and come to her arms when it gets dark. When they've nested, I'll pick my way home.
The Gombe evening is magical. It's dark by 7:30 pm and I'll jump into Lake Tanganyika. The clear fresh water makes all my bruises, aches and tiredness go away. I'll cook something like beans, onions and tomatoes over an open fire. Day-time cooking at Gombe requires House Rule Number One, which is to keep the door shut because the baboons push past you to get to the food. Sometimes in the evening we'll eat under the stars. In the rainy season we'll sit on the overgrown verandah. It's paradise.
Sadly, today, I am very seldom able to spend time in Gombe. When I'm there I just want to walk quietly through the forest, sit with the chimpanzees, re-charge my battery.
Since 1986, I haven't stayed anywhere longer that three weeks. These days I sometimes wonder where I am when I wake up. On my last USA lecture tour I rarely spent two nights in one place. There are lectures, new people to meet, receptions, press conferences. My grandmother's favorite text was always, 'As thy days, so shall thy strength be,' which has got me through everything terrible that's ever happened to me. A day's not too much to get through.
A typical non-African day is spent in airplanes, lobbying like crazy, writing letters and sorting slides. In America, people usually recognize me because of the National Geographic so I always carry brochures from the Jane Goodall Institute.
I have an incredible family. Both my aunt and my mother are over 90. They live in Bournemouth in England. Breakfast there is at 9 am, which is great for me because I can get in three hours' work beforehand. I find I've still got around 100 letters to write despite just having written that many. I try to answer them all, especially the children's. In the afternoon there is more writing, a peaceful tea with the family, a walk with the dog, then supper, then more work.
I often have problems sleeping. I suppose I'm trying to do too many things. Once I let go, it all comes crowding in and I have pictures in my mind of chimps in chains, chimps in laboratories. It's awful. It colors my watching the wild chimps. I think, 'Aren't they lucky?' and then think about other tiny chimps in tiny prisons, though they have committed no crimes. Once you've seen it, you can't forget...
- Jane Goodall