AfricaInside.org, connected to the wild, conservationist, Jane Goodall, Journey for Earth, Kenya, Lori Robinson, nature, plastic bags, plastic litter, preserve wild places, Tanzania, The Africa Bags Project, Uganda, wildlife, Zimbabwe
My name is Annabel Ruffell and I am the founder of Journey for Earth, a global awareness company committed to inspiring change for humanity, the environment and animals, one choice at a time.
I first discovered Lori’s work when she wrote to me to tell me how she found the work that I am doing inspiring. Well, I in turn found the work that she is doing in Africa inspiring! From the Wild Camp Programs for kids and Penpals for Kids Programs and other projects, to all of the valuable information and resources on her site. Of course I wanted to share her journey on my site.
Lori Robinson is a Conservationist, Writer and lover of all things Wild. Thirty years of travelling to and living in eleven African countries – from her first trip to southern Africa as a journalist, to her recent role as Africa Adventures Specialist in East Africa for the Jane Goodall Institute – has nourished Lori’s lifelong passion for the natural world. In 2009 she sold her house in Santa Barbara and most of her stuff, to live more simply. When she’s not traveling in Africa, she’s writing about wildlife and wild places from small cabins, cottages and huts in various locations. You can find Lori Robinson at AfricaInside.org
1) What Journey are You on?
My essential elements of my journey are:
~ To live a small, large life.
Five years ago I down sized my life by selling my large home with most of its furnishings and decorations. Since then I have lived in a one-room cottage in California, and a log cabin in the Teton National Park. Both are small enough (less than 600 square feet) that I am able to live without the distractions and preoccupations of possessions and stuff. I am now free to devote my unhindered energy to what I care most about: writing about and working to save wildlife and wild places.
~ To stay connected to the Wild and inspire others to do the same.
Modern life is increasingly disconnected to wildness and I think we are suffering – emotionally, spiritually and physically – because of that lost connection. I spend as much time as possible outdoors hiking, walking, being. I keep my windows and doors open; I lay on the earth everyday. Being in nature inspires me, grounds me, and heals me. It keeps me happy. I write stories to motivate and inspire myself, and others, to care about wildness.
~ To figure out ways, everyday, to ‘kiss’ the earth and its wild places and wildlife.
I feel best when I make choices on a daily basis that help rather than harm the earth. I bike and walk instead of drive when I can. I pick up trash whenever I do walk. I eat very little meat and when I do, I choose free-range. I buy my veggies from local farmers, and feed the wild birds, squirrels and rabbits by planting native species. I write stories and work on projects (through my organization AfricaInside.org) that I believe are making a positive impact on helping wildlife and wild places.
I’ve always cared about animals and after I majored in Environmental Studies in college, I got a job at the Animal Welfare Institute in DC. I soon realized, however, that I was overly sensitive to the issues facing animals and was frustrated by the lack of evident change. I have since learned, in part from spending so much time in Africa, and with my mentor Jane Goodall, that patience and perseverance and doing what I can each day to help, does make a difference.
I’m no longer the young naïve conservationist, with the idea I could change the world with devotion and will power alone. Now I recognize that I feel better about myself, and my efforts, when I’m living with as much respect toward this wonderful earth and it’s non human beings as I possibly can. And that is something I can do each day, and in the end it is an empowering sentiment, and all anyone of us can really do.
3) Tell us about “The Africa Bags Project”
Although the Africa Bags Project is not a main focus of my organization, it’s a good example of how one small, focused action can have a huge impact. I was traveling in the rural villages of Tanzania in 2004 visiting various Heifer projects, and was saddened by the pervasive plastic litter. It clogged the streams, was caught in the bushes and trees, and was being eaten by the animals.
I wanted to educate the local people about the hazards of plastic in the environment and motivate them to care about cleaning the litter. Back in America I asked people to donate any unused totes they had and I took those to Africa by the thousands. I offered a tote to villagers who, in exchange, cleaned 25 plastic bags from their environment. In some cases women walked 10 miles to get their tote. Security guards were called to protect me during my first exchange when hundreds of women showed up carrying the litter they had cleaned from the land. The project is still going on and we have cleaned areas in Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Uganda. Following our project in Tanzania, the President banned the manufacturing of plastic bags there. It’s an easy model to copy and shows that a simple idea can have a huge impact. There is a three minute video on my website for those that are interested.
With all the negative news – poaching, trophy hunting, factory farming, de-listing of animals from endangered status, loss of habitat – the problems are so numerous and familiar to most of us – it is often difficult to remain hopeful. My greatest hope is that everyone on the planet realizes how uninteresting and unhealthy a world without elephants and bears, rivers and trees would be. My greatest hope is that we each care enough to live our lives everyday with choices and actions that protect and preserve wild places and wild animals. We need to change the way we use water, the way we commute, the way we build our homes, the way we eat, and the number of children we have. We need to change the way we understand our relationship with nature and non-human beings. If we do, and I believe we are conscious and loving and caring enough to do so (many of us are already making these mindful changes) than we will have fewer physical, spiritual and emotional problems. The planet and all of us would be a lot happier.
What Journey are YOU on?