Editor’s Note: This is the first of several posts by Think Green columnist Robert Gardner exploring the stories of the young activists profiled in Emily Hunter’s book, The Next Eco Warriors. Hunter will speak at Montgomery County Community College on Monday, Feb. 25 from 12:30-2 p.m. in the Science Center Theater at Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. A simulcast of the presentation will be shown at the West Campus in the Community Room of South Hall, 101 College Drive, Pottstown.
When environmental activist Emily Hunter visits Montgomery County Community College on Monday, Feb. 25, she will bring a message of hope in the critical fight against climate change. Standing on the shoulders of first-generation activists, young men and women from around the world are taking the battle to new fronts. They are The Next Eco Warriors.
Following in the footsteps of her father, Greenpeace co-founder Robert Hunter, Emily literally got her feet wet by joining Sea Shepherd at age 19. The organization dedicated itself to the protection of marine life. On her very first mission, Hunter recognized in herself and the rest of the young crew that a new movement was forming.
“I knew I wanted to be an eco-[warrior] until the day I die.”
Hunter began meeting more and more of the new generation as she travelled the globe. They, too, sought reform. She made sure their stories were told by mainstream media. The Next Eco Warriors tells of “22 young men and women who are saving the planet” in their own words.
Allana Beltran was a young, Australian artist when she arrived on the shores of Tasmania basking in the cool breeze flowing down from its wooded mountains. She did not intend to be an activist; she had come to Tasmania to create art. However, after one short walk within its lush Weld Valley, she witnessed the horrors of deforestation. Ben Morrow and several other activists spent time living in tree-sits—their protest against a ruthless logging industry. She soon fell in love with Morrow and his forest.
Beltran’s creativity reached new heights while defending the Weld. In a flash, she conceived the Weld Angel. Wearing a set of wings fashioned over two years from feathers found on the forest floor, Beltran climbed a tripod by the entrance to the forest. Neither police nor negotiators nor media could coax the Angel down. She was ultimately brought back to earth by a crane. But her message was heard. News spread and Beltran’s Angel garnered international attention.
Since the passing of Morrow to cancer, Beltran has sought new ways to protect Tasmania’s ancient forests through the “power of creativity, art, love and compassion.”
“I wanted to capture this wilderness,” said Beltran, now 26, of her arrival into the Weld. “But it ended up capturing me.”