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"I think cars should go extinct, not polar bears!" - My Journey to Eco-Feminism

Trista Hendren

I have to admit, I was not always an eco-feminist. 

It was a v-e-r-y gradual process for me. I didn't learn about feminism until my first year in college when I had the eye-opening experience of hearing bell hooks speak. Even 15 years into my feminist journey, I still had not fully embraced the importance of our natural world.

It took me a long time to understand the connections between the rape and abuse of women worldwide and the rape of our planet.

My children changed all of that.

I realized I couldn't leave them the world I had helped create. So I started changing my life radically, reducing my expenses by 80% and getting rid of all non-essentials.  I started writing feminist children's books that I hoped all people, young and old, would read.

Madeline L'Engle  once said, "If I have something that is too difficult for adults to swallow, I will write it in a book for children." This still rings true today. Our children are our biggest impetus for change.

My next book is about Mother Earth and was inspired by my children. My daughter in particular is becoming a true environmentalist.

She is both magical and inquisitive. She likes to understand the ins and outs of everything. She can't understand why more people are not working harder to save the Earth. Her voice echoes in my head as I try to sleep at night.

"But Why Mommy? Why?"

Sometimes I don't have any good answers. We try to live the best we can. We sold our car and walk everywhere most days. But she wonders about all the other cars lined up on the street as we walk by. She worries. Recently she told me she didn't think she would live to be 35 because of global warming.

As we stop to pet each dog along our way to school, she confides: "I think cars should go extinct, not polar bears!"

I agree. Not everyone wants to--or can--live without a car. But there is always more each of us can do to help save the Earth. This book is my attempt to help change the collective consciousness of our planet.

I don't want my daughter--or any child--to live in fear over what adults have created. Zoe Weil said that "the world becomes what you teach" and called on adults to raise a generation of “Solutionaries”.

My daughter inspires me every day to leave the world in a better place. I hope this book will inspire both compassion and confidence in our children so that they can become Solutionaries instead of feeling powerless.

With each book, I include quotes that have motivated me. This book will include wisdom from Vandana Shiva, Alice Walker, Winona LaDuke, Audre Lorde, Arundhati Roy and many more.

I'd like to end by sharing a passage that inspires me to live a more eco-friendly life every day. I heard that there was not a dry eye in the room when Professor Moore read. I still can not read her words without tearing up. We are using it as an introduction to our book, which we hope will inspire children, their parents and grandparents to create a different world.

Poets warned us, writing of the heartbreaking beauty that will remain when there is no heart to break for it. But what if it is worse than that? What if it’s the heartbroken children who remain in a world without beauty? How will they find solace in a world without wild music? How will they thrive without green hills edged with oaks? How will they forgive us for letting frog-song slip away? When my granddaughter looks back at me, I will be on my knees, begging her to say I did all I could.

I didn’t do all I could have done.

It isn’t enough to love a child and wish her well. It isn’t enough to open my heart to a bird-graced morning. Can I claim to love a morning if I don’t protect what creates its beauty? Can I claim to love a child if I don’t use all the power of my beating heart to preserve a world that nourishes children’s joy? Loving is not a kind of la-de-da.

Loving is a sacred trust. To love is to affirm the absolute worth of what you love and to pledge your life to its thriving—to protect it fiercely and faithfully, for all time.“

-Kathleen Dean Moore, from “The Call to Forgiveness at the End of the Day”

Posted by: Trista Hendren

All paintings by Elisabeth Slettnes