By Anonymous (not verified) on December 30, 2012

"We need to remember that the work of our time is bigger than climate change.

We need to be setting our sights higher and deeper.

What we're really talking about, if we're honest with ourselves,

is transforming everything about the way we live on this planet.

We don't always know exactly what it is that creates social change.

It takes everything from science all the way to faith,

and it's that fertile place right in the middle

where really exceptional campaigning happens -

and that is where I strive to be."

-- Rebecca Tarbotton

Leading environmentalist and human rights activist, Rebecca "Becky" Tarbotton, executive director of the San Francisco-based organization Rainforest Action Network (RAN), died in a swimming accident north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Wednesday, December 26, 2012. She was vacationing with her husband and close friends.

She was swimming in the open ocean, encountered some rough waves and inhaled water. Although she was rescued and brought ashore, she could not be revived. According to the police report, she died of asphyxiation.

Nell Greenberg, communications director for RAN, said, "Becky was an emerging star who was galvanizing an ever-growing movement of people demanding environmental and social change."

Tarbotton was an environmentalist and human rights activist. Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, on July 30, 1973, she completed her B.A. in Geography at McGill University and a M.A. in Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia.

Her work began with indigenous communities in far northern Canada. She subsequently lived in Ladakh, India, for eight years, working for the International Society for Ecology and Culture.

Tarbotton took the helm of RAN in 2010, the first woman to do so in the organization's 27-year history. She led campaigns to preserve rainforests and protect indigenous rights, pushing to the fore the nexus of fossil fuel use, forest degradation and global warming.

Michael Brune, former executive director of RAN and now executive director of the Sierra Club, said, "Becky was a force against deforestation and corporate greed. She was a rising star. We need more women to be leading environmental, and losing a leader and friend like Becky is especially painful."

Her most recent success was brokering a deal with Walt Disney that would eliminate their use of paper produced from the logging of endangered forests.

Bill McKibben of 350.org said, "She was a fighter with a spring in her step and a bit of fire in her eye."

"Becky was a leader's leader. She could walk into the White House and cause a corporate titan to reevaluate his perspective, and then moments later sit down with leaders from other movements and convince them to follow her lead," Ben Jealous, executive director of the NAACP and a close friend, said. "If we had more heroes like her, America and the world would be a much better place."

She is survived by her husband, Mateo Williford; her brothers Jesse Tarbotton and Cameron Tarbotton, and her mother, Mary Tarbotton, of Vancouver, BC. Her ashes will be scattered off of Hornby Island in British Columbia where her family owns a cabin and where she spent much time with family and friends.

Public memorial services will be held in San Francisco and in Vancouver. Dates are still to be determined.

For those who would like to send condolences to her family, please send them to the RAN office, 425 Bush Street, Ste 300, San Francisco, CA 94108.

Tina Gerhardt is an independent journalist and academic who covers international climate negotiations, domestic energy policy and related direct actions. Her work has appeared in Alternet, Grist, The Nation, The Progressive and the Washington Monthly.


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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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