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The Wisdom of Dr. Jane Goodall

A living legend shares her reasons for hope with Seattle philanthropists


October 09, 2017

By Philanthropic Advisor Elizabeth List


As nervous as you might be before meeting Jane Goodall, the second she makes eye contact with you and smiles, any anxiety completely dissolves. And when she wraps her arms around you in the “official chimpanzee hug,” you feel as though Jane Goodall is your friend.

On Oct. 2, it was my great honor to help host “An Evening with Jane Goodall,” an intimate event for Seattle Foundation philanthropists. The audience heard firsthand how a 26-year old enthusiastic but untrained young woman arrived on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in East Africa to study wild chimpanzees, as well as the path that lead her to activism.Jane Goodall and Philanthropic Advisor Jane Goodall

And they experienced her warmth, humor, intelligence and unwavering commitment to protecting our planet.

I have met Dr. Goodall before, read her books, watched the films about her. There is a picture of her, at age 28, hanging on my kitchen wall. So, I was delighted to moderate a Q&A with her following her remarks on her life’s journey and work.

Like Dr. Goodall, Seattle Foundation and our philanthropists are passionate about healthy natural spaces and diverse animal species. We invest in natural places now and for future generations; connect climate policy with social justice efforts; support efforts to preserve key habitat; and partner with others on land use and conservation.

At the age of 83, Dr. Goodall travels an average of 300 days per year, spreading her message of hope for a better world for people, animals and the environment. In spite of the tremendous challenges facing humanity, Jane’s reasons for hope are, in her words, “simple:”

1. Young people: When they understand the problems, youth bring tremendous energy and commitment to developing solutions.
2. The human brain: Already, around the world, innovative solutions are being developed to many of the problems we have created. We are finding new ways to leave lighter ecological footprints.
3. The resilience of nature: We have seen so many species come back from the brink of extinction. If we give nature the chance, it will thrive.
4. The indomitable human spirit: There are people who tackle seemingly impossible tasks and won’t give up.
5. The power of social media: Our efforts in the digital space have strong potential to create real change and impact.

It was truly an honor to spend time with this living legend, who is also happens to be kind and charming. Dr. Goodall continues to inspire countless individuals around the globe with her message that everything is interconnected and everyone can make a difference.

As Jane encouraged us that night: "I want everybody to understand that as an individual each one of us makes a difference. We make some impact on the planet every single day. We have a choice what sort of impact will we make, and we need to start thinking about the consequences of the small choices we make."

To learn more, visit the website of the Jane Goodall Institute. Interested in increasing your impact on these issues? Connect with one of our expert philanthropic advisors and explore our Environment element of a healthy community.

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