The founding and founding people of the organization.
Baha'u'llah, often quoted by St Barbe as a reminder of the universal nature of our work and lives.
Children of the Green Earth was conceived in April 1980 from conversations between Man of the Trees Richard St. Barbe Baker, environmental educator Michael Soulé, and Ron Rabin and David Koteen from Hearthwind Farm in Oregon. The vision that emerged was a global network of children and adults dedicated to combating global deforestation and the loss of ecological consciousness by encouraging and supporting young people in planting, understanding, and caring for trees everywhere.
The organization was officially founded on July 22, 1980, in a ceremony at the United Nations Offices in NYC with the above founders and an advisory board including Environmentalist Rene Dubois and Findhorn Community co-founder Dorothy Maclean. The motto, “From our hearts, with our hands, for the earth, all the world together” lived strongly in everything we did.
From its founding in 1980 until 1995, Children of the G¬reen Earth grew by initiating, supporting, and connecting tree planting and care activities of groups and individuals throughout the world. Its annual activity was called the Festival of the Trees, where people could share and celebrate their global co-working. During these years, educator Holly Koteen from Hearthwind Farm, writer and community activist Dorothy Craig, and author and teacher Mary Oak, both from Seattle, joined the core group of the organization to carry the work forward. along with Board members and friends Betty Didcoct, Penny and Robert Cabot, Nancy Rumbel, and Pratt Remmel. The work was primarily volunteered.
During these years, strong connections were made with Sunderlal Bahuguna, leader of the Chipko Tree Movement, and others in India, and with Robert Mazibuko, founder of the African Tree Center in South Africa. Also, the Seattle Waldorf School was a center of activity for many years. Rene Dubois died in 1982, St Barbe Baker in 1984, and Dorothy Maclean in 2020. They all continued to inspire our work. In 1995, we decided that our earth stewardship and tree work could best be done through other initiatives in our lives and we agreed to close the organization. This website is both a celebration of the work that was done by so many dedicated and inspired individuals and groups and an effort to share the vision at the heart of Children of the Green Earth with others. We hope these stories and resources are helpful to you.
A global collaboration of groups dedicated to trees and reforestation Started in 1980, the Festival has been celebrated in communities around the world. Some communities and groups, like the RCHSS in India, are still celebrating this work.
While there were many, many friends and colleagues involved in Children of the Green Earth over the years -- in projects, as board members, as staff, and as helpers -- the four of us represent the core of the organization through its life. Children of the Green Earth still lives deeply in our hearts, our hands, and the earth around us. We have been honored to share the vision and carry whatever work we could over the years. Many thanks to Dorothy and Mary for helping make this website possible and to Ron for his contributions and inspiration in our early years.
I’ve always loved being out in the forest, but I gained a new appreciation for trees in learning about the importance of forests for food, fiber and fuel for so many people around the world and the importance of trees for mitigating climate change. I learned about all this at a seminar on International Permaculture in 1986, followed by a tour of reforestation projects in India including a visit to Sunderlal Bahuguna, founder of the Chipko Movement. Meanwhile, I’d met Michael Soule and joined Children of the Green Earth. We began corresponding with tree-planting partners in India, Africa, South America and elsewhere, envisioning a worldwide network of children planting trees and feeling themselves part of something much bigger than their own small village. While living in Olympia, Washington I helped organize tree-planting activities as part of the City’s sustainable community program. In 2001, I returned to India and spent a week in West Bengal with Shibesh Das – one of our tree-planting partners – and toured several villages. In each one we planted a tree and taught the children our tree-planting song: “From our hearts, with our hands, for the Earth, all the world together.” Since then, so many others have joined the movement to make the earth green again, planting many millions of trees in an effort to stem climate change and continue enjoying the many gifts we receive from the forest.
As a mother and teacher, I have always sought to awaken a sense of kinship with trees. I had admired the work of CGE from afar and then serendipitously met Michael Soule in the early 1990s, after moving to Seattle. I led “Students Greens “ at Seattle Waldorf School, which organized local treeplantings and restoration projects while fundraising for tree projects in South Africa. With Annie Blampied in Sussex, England, I led a series of Tree Festivals for adults. I am on the BA faculty of Antioch University Seattle, where trees are a strong part of bringing sacred ecology into my courses. I am author of Heart’s Oratorio: One Woman’s Journey through Love, Death and Modern Medicine (Goldenstone Press, 2013).
As a kid growing up in the Midwest, two of my very closest friends were the giant cottonwoods next to our house. Their fragrant and shimmering beauty drew me into a lifelong love affair with trees. Little did I know that years later Michael Soule would enter my life, bringing with him inspiration by, and connections to Richard St. Barbe Baker, the Man of the Trees, and Dorothy Maclean, co-founder of Findhorn in Scotland. Deep thanks, Michael.
At the direction of Richard St. Barbe Baker, I headed off to India in the Spring of 1980 to meet with and learn from Sunderlal Bahuguna, leader of the Chipko (Hug to the Trees) Movement. We later brought Sunderlal to the West Coast to inspire and motivate thousands of young tree planters via the Festival of the Trees.
Upon returning from India, I joined Michael and others in founding Children of the Green Earth and served as its executive director, supporting programs, communications, and projects. And graciously, the visionary philanthropist, Robert Cabot, connected us with the Paul Winter Consort that performed a benefit concert on our behalf. In addition to helping support our early development, this also brought me my lovely wife of almost forty years, Nancy Rumbel, who at the time was the Consort’s oboist and resident sprite.
Trees have played a special part in my life, and being involved with Children of the Green Earth was an important part of my unfolding journey. It expanded my heart, strengthened my hands, made me more conscious about the living earth, and put me in touch with people all over the world who share a vision of the earth green and a commitment to stewarding it as best we can. St Barbe helped me see trees not as just a part of nature but as living beings that could invite me to enter a door into greater consciousness and committed service.