I was deeply saddened to read of the death of Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Ms. Maathai was the visionary leader behind the Green Belt Movement, which she began in 1977. The Green Belt Movement taught women to plant trees to keep their water clean and to provide them with a sustainable source of cooking wood. Most importantly, Ms. Maathai’s leadership empowered women and gave them a way to take control over at least part of their lives.
I wrote about Wangari Maathai several years ago when we were in the middle of one of the Triangle’s worst droughts and municipalities were fighting over scarce water. In my piece I included a quote from her, “When you look at many of the conflicts that we have, people fight over resources. It is either because the resources have become extremely degraded and therefore they are very scarce or they have disappeared and people get into a conflict.”
Ms. Maathai understood that we all are conservationists and need to take care of the natural resources that God gave us. These gifts are both a privilege and a responsibility. We must use them wisely and sustainably.
I came upon a short video clip of Wangari Maathai as I read about her passing. It is titled “I will be a hummingbird” and was part of the film, “Dirt: The Movie.” Her message in this clip reminded me of why I believe in the strength of local land trusts and why I support Triangle Land Conservancy. If you would like to watch the clip and be inspired, click on http://www.dirtthemovie.org/.
Rest easy, Wangari Maathai. There are many hummingbirds to carry on your mission.