Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Hazel Wolf: Fighting the Establishment

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Hazel Wolf: Fighting the Establishment

Article excerpt

Review: Hazel Wolf: Fighting the Establishment By Susan Starbuck Susan Starbuck. Hazel Wolf: Fighting the Establishment. Seattle: University of Washington, 2003. 408 pp. ISBN 0-295-98222-5 (trade cloth). US$29.95

Though a lifelong environmentalist in the truest sense of the word, renowned activist Hazel Wolf became an organizin', agitatin' environmentalist sometime in the sixties, having cut her teeth on a battle by the United States to deport her and others during the McCarthy period.

Wolf began her environmental activities by whipping the local Audubon Society into shape and seeing it through a period in which it evolved from a group of bird-watchers to being a part of the national lobbying effort that the national Audubon is today. She brought different individuals into groups, and brought groups into working on particular issues they had not considered before. She was a firm believer in the interrelatedness of all things and is quoted as saying "I think the best an organizer can do is get people together, inspire them to want to stay together, and share with them any particular knowledge you might have to help them do that. And then that's the end of it, as far as I can see. If you want to run the thing, then you're not an organizer-you're just on an ego trip."

Wolf took to organizing naturally, and this imparts a sense of simplicity to her history. She breezes through her account of how, in 1979, she undertook the monumental task of bringing the state's Indian tribes together with environmental lobbyists. It sounds simple because to her, her actions were simply the right things to do. But was it simple? Probably not. She alienated friends on behalf of a tribe of strangers. She was on the road for months through Washington State and British Columbia, meeting with tribes. Wolf was 81 at the time.

Wolf is well known for her stories and sayings. This biography is full of them, collected by a skilled interviewer who, over a period of 20 years, became a friend. Starbuck contributes summarizing paragraphs and catchy headers, such as "How to Manage the Timber Industry," that would read beautifully on a Ken Burns-style TV documentary. Wolf contributes the rest. In addition to stories about her activities, the book is mined through with observations that reveal her general worldview. …

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