The New Human Vocation Is to Heal the Earth: The Warbler Speaks Out

Author Sam Keen says, "The radical vision of the future rests on the belief that the logic that determines either our survival or our destruction is simple:

The new human vocation is to heal the Earth.
We can only heal what we love.
We can only love what we know.
We can only know what we touch."

In many communities in northern California people are coming together to protect the Earth from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). "From the wild canyons of the Smith River, through the redwood parks of Humboldt, to the wetlands headwaters of the Eel River at Willits, Caltrans is running roughshod over the North Coast," said Natalynne Delapp of the Environmental Protection Information Center. "Local communities are trying to engage the agency to develop appropriate transportation solutions, but Caltrans continues to bulldoze us with archaic projects straight out of the 1950s, that benefit only a limited group of economic interests."

In Willits, Calif., a small town, 135 miles north of San Francisco, 24-year old Amanda Senseman is taking a stand in support of the Little Lake Valley. On Jan. 28, 2013, Senseman, calling herself the Warbler, climbed into a large ponderosa pine tree slated for removal along the Caltrans proposed freeway bypass. Her actions were supported by a local citizen's group, Save Our Little Lake Valley (SOLLV).

On March 28, 2013, she called a press conference amid increasing cutting and clearing of nearby trees by Caltrans. Some thought she might be ending her tree sit, but that was not the case. The courage of her decision brought tears to a number of those present.

Local press, including the Willits News, Willits Weekly, KMUD Radio, Nomad Films, and a reporter from KQED in San Francisco, attended the 10 a.m. press conference at the front of the now-gated tree-sit site on the northbound side of Highway 101:

"As of March 28, the two-month mark of the Warbler tree-sit, I, Amanda Senseman, Warbler, am going on a hunger strike.

Currently, I am witnessing the destruction of my home. Caltrans contractors are clearing multiple areas, cutting trees and clearing brush, despite the fact that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act took effect as of February 1.

CHP officers have been deployed from around the state to occupy our valley, complete with helicopter fly-bys and 24-hour surveillance.

This is an obsolete project which will cause irreparable damage to our watershed, forest and community. The life that this valley harbors will not survive this.

I am 24 years old, and I want a future and a future for my children.

I will remain on hunger strike until the following demands are met:

1 All construction on the Willits Bypass ceases pending legal resolution;

2. The public and press are able to enter the destroyed and disturbed areas to document said destruction and violations of law, nature and common sense;

3. And the least harmful alternatives and appropriately scaled transportation solutions are adopted.

With the utmost sincerity,

Amanda Senseman. Thank you.

Jennifer Poole, a reporter with Willits Weekly described the response to Warbler's statement:

When a protester called across the highway and asked CHP: "Are you really going to deprive Warbler of water?" one of the officers answered: "That's up to Caltrans."

Save Our Little Valley's Will Parrish, who has been reporting on the Willits bypass and other local stories for the Anderson Valley Advertiser, then announced he would be joining the hunger strike.

Parrish also announced to the crowd of, by then, about 50 protesters; "Last night, a fourth tree sit was erected right here in this area. 'Falcon' is sitting in this oak tree right here."

Parrish told the crowd that the hill where they were gathered was part of a designated fill dirt supply site for the bypass. "Just yesterday, Caltrans was here putting 'No Trespassing' signs around. This is the only area from which we can observe and have access to stand in solidarity with Warbler."

As the Warbler noted to Parrish, "It's obvious they're used to getting away with anything they want to, and it's obvious why they feel that way when you see how many cops there are protecting them." But the voices of the people continue to be heard. "I'll be reporting in greater detail next week," said Parrish. "The opposition to the bypass has not been vanquished; it seems only to have just begun."