An impassioned call to heal the wounds of our planet and ourselves through the tenets of our spiritual traditions, from a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
It is so easy, in our modern world, to feel disconnected from the physical earth. Despite dire warnings and escalating concern over the state of our planet, many people feel out of touch with the natural world. Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai has spent decades working with the Green Belt Movement to help women in rural Kenya plant – and sustain – millions of trees. With their hands in the dirt, these women often find themselves empowered and "at home" in a way they never did before. Maathai wants to impart that feeling to everyone and believes that the key lies in traditional spiritual values: love for the environment, self-betterment, gratitude and respect, and a commitment to service. While educated in the Christian tradition, Maathai draws inspiration from many faiths, celebrating the Jewish mandate tikkun olam ("repair the world") and renewing the Japanese term mottainai ("don't waste"). Through rededication to these values, she believes, we might finally bring about healing for ourselves and the earth.
Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya, in 1940. She is the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which, through networks of rural women, has planted over 30 million trees across Kenya since 1977. In 2002, she was elected to Kenya's Parliament in the first free elections in a generation and served as Deputy Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 in recognition of her campaigns for democracy and environmental reform during the dictatorship of Daniel arap Moi. She died in 2011.