Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and UN Messenger of Peace, is with us from the UK for a special eco-edition of the Beautiful Writers Podcast. I’m excited to celebrate the release of the Nat Geo film The Hope—showcasing Jane's lifetime of jaw-dropping conservation—with the use of stunning audio from the movie.
Joining us is our longtime mutual friend, Keely Shaye Brosnan, a fearless activist. Like Jane, Keely has been a leader in conservation for decades—involved in some of the most dramatic environmental wins of our lifetime (think Dolphin Safe Tuna Act, for starters). Excerpts from Keely's latest offering—the award-winning film, Poisoning Paradise (illustrating how agrochemical companies are treating the islands as pesticide-testing grounds for genetically engineered crops)—help bring this interview to life.
If you're like me, you fell in love with Jane as a kid, watching her climbing trees and grooming (and being groomed by!) wild chimpanzees in the Gombe forest like a female Tarzan. I felt similar magic the first time I met Keely. While profiling her over twenty years ago for my first book, she and her husband, actor Pierce Brosnan, showed me devastating film footage taken from a hidden camera onboard a fishing vessel. While I would never unsee the massacre of dolphins en masse (schools of tuna often swim under pods of dolphins, leading to all sorts of excruciating, high-stakes tragedy), Keely had my heart. Not only does she not look away, but she stands up and puts up one heck of a fight.
Both women are extraordinary writers. Jane's books are some of my all-time favorites: Reasons for Hope, Harvest for Hope, and Seeds of Hope, among them. While Keely's most known for her television writing, her book on gardening (in the works) is a poetic masterpiece—you can quote me on that. I loved hearing details of their passion for words, how they bust through writer's block, and get in flow.
As we all hunker down due to Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders at the time of this taping, Jane's viewpoint is unique. Her Roots & Shoots programs are global (with 2,000 groups in China alone!); she's intimately aware of the dire effects of the wild animal trade. But, as I anticipated, Jane continues to hold onto her signature hope for a better future. My hope is that we take this profound opportunity to reimagine how we want to treat our Earth Mother. We can't all be bigger-than-life eco-heroes, but we can all live #alittlegreener.
Until next time, stay safe, plant a tree, and write on!