Intimate Conversation with Dr. Jane Goodall
Dr. Goodall, who just celebrated her 85th birthday on April 3, is in person a slight women, who talks softly. Still, make no mistake about her ability to speak from the heart – all based on science. Rarely does she beat around the bush, she is absolute and direct. Her end goal, the reason she travels around the world – and hasn’t missed a beat – is simply to make the world a better place. And not only a better place for us, but a better place for our children.
We begin our conversation talking about the Roots and Shoots movement for children, which I was one of the first to write about when the program began.
More than ever before Dr. Goodall says indeed we have compromised the future for our children, but more than anything else what we can not lose is HOPE. And every individual can make a difference, no matter where on the planet you happen to live. Roots and Shoots has planted seeds in over 100 countries.
“There’s a growing awareness about what’s happening on the planet, but now we need (to follow that with) a change of behavior. Roots and Shoots is about children educating their parents”
We talk about how her career began in the first place – researching chimpanzees.
It all began, she says, when she had a dream at the age of 10 years old of going to Africa – but not necessarily as a scientist. She was the first of “Lois Leakey’s Angels” as they were dubbed (from the popular TV show of the day, “Charlie’s Angels”), including Dian Fossey who studied the Mountain Gorilla and Birute Gadikas, who researched the Borneo Orangutan, as well as Jane Goodall.
Dr. Goodall explains why Leakey, the famed anthropologist, sought out “the Angels” rather than men – which was unheard of at the time.
She also tells the story about how one Chicago conference transformed her from a PhD researcher of our closest living relatives to an activist.
We do talk about climate change. And I ask Dr. Goodall what she says to naysayers (only in the U.S. – elsewhere in the world climate change is a given and accepted as a reality), particularly President Trump. I ask her what she would say to President Trump if he was sitting right here. She also comments on Brexit in the UK.
Dr. Goodall and I chat about the Fear Free initiative, and how that ties in with what she learned from her childhood dog. Of course, we’re not the only beings with feelings, and animal emotions do matter. At one time she was told animal emotions don’t even exist.
“I certainly know there are ways of alleviating fears in an animal and the communication that goes on (with humans)”
Dr. Goodall says for a better world we must alleviate poverty first, and explains why that is so. We must address pollution. We must address the use of herbicides and pesticides – it’s impacting everything, even our own health. And we must address human population growth. We must also address corruption. With our intellect we could solve these problems. Do we have the will to do so before it is too late? She notes that when the political swing is to the far right ALWAYS economic development comes before saving the environment.
“How crazy is it to believe we can have unlimited economic development on a planet of finite natural resources”
We discuss ecotourism – and its pro’s and con’s.
I ask Dr. Goodall what makes her happiest. And her answer, in part, “being with a dog.”
I asked Dr. Goodall what her secret vice is – and she answers.
“Every single day every one of us lives we make some impact on the planet. And we have a choice on what sort of impact we’re going to make”
I tell her I hope she wins the Nobel Peace Prize, not only because she has earned it but also it will enhance her platform. Do you agree? If so, sign this petition.
Dr. Jane Goodall came into her room at the Hyatt on Wacker Drive in Chicago, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like crying, but instead gave her a hug. She was gracious about accepting that hug, and instantly noticed gorillas on my tie. We talked about how I had many years ago traveled to Borneo to do field research to learn about orangutans in Borneo and also a few years ago traveling to Rwanda to see the Mountain Gorillas.
She asked about the right colored shawl to wear, either the red one seen in the video or another. Dr. Goodall’s staff and my camera director all agreed on the red one. When chit-chatting before we went on, she laughed when my microphone became unclipped from my tie and fell into my lap. I hadn’t noticed but she did. “It’ll be hard for people to hear you that way,” she said.
Thee’s nothing whatsoever pretentious about her. What you see is what you get.
During the interview she listened carefully to what I said. A good interviewer listens and reacts. Hopefully, I do that. But Dr. Goodall is the same way, easily picking up on my body language and paying attention to what I was saying. Clearly she is a good listener, and if she has a superpower (and I’d she has several), super-empathy is one. Back in the day, I covered Oprah Winfrey, and interviewed everyone from Jimmy Stewart to Lucille Ball, dozens of celebrity interviews. But I’ve never met anyone quite like Jane Goodall. She is a super hero – and what she is saying is so vitally important to our future. Her skills as a listener are abundantly clear. I’m unsure we’re paying as much attention to what she’s saying as we need to. And indeed, we need to. So please share this video – the more people who hear her messages, the better.