Jane Goodall Hopecast Podcast Ep 8 – Mailbag!

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Full Transcript:

Jane Goodall 0:00
CONSERVATION CHOIR INTRO: Changing mindsets and opening hearts about Mother Earth. Our planet is a gift. I believe in the collective efforts of everyone. I believe that everyone can make a difference. I aspire to change the world, too, because of the hope she gave me. She devoted her life it. Together we can save the world. Together we can, together we will. What is your greatest reason for hope? I’m Jane Goodall. And this is the Hopecast.

Welcome to another special mailbag episode, where I get to hear questions and comments that you’ve submitted through our website. Today, I’m joined by our unofficial Hopecaster-in-Chief, and one of the members of my communications team, Shawn Sweeney. Hello, Shawn.

Shawn Sweeney 0:58
Hello, Dr. Jane. Good to be with you today. I’m excited to share some messages from our Hopecaster community. We’ve got many that are very beautiful, and they’re from all over the world. As we were going through these, I was so shocked to see how many corners of Planet Earth we are reaching with Hopecast. Now we’re going to play a clip from Lucia Hada from Mexico.

Hopecaster 1 1:30
Hi, Jane. My name is Lucia, and I am a 14-year-old girl from Mexico. A lot of time hear that you’ve met lots of young people like me who have lost hope. And I think I used to be one of them, reading about climate change or biodiversity loss really depressed me. But now I have a great reason for hope. And it is people like you, who keep working every day to make of this world a better place. I have to thank you. Because you have inspired me to take action and teach me that I’m not too young to make a difference. And also because you give me a break from bad news and instead make a space for love, kindness, and hope, something we all humans need in these difficult times. Thank you.

Jane Goodall 2:18
Well, Lucia what a wonderful message. And thank you for telling me that I’ve given you hope. So you just said that you’ve been inspired to take action. And I’m sure that you found that by taking action, it gives life a meaning, and you become automatically more hopeful. And you know, I’ve just almost finished a book of hope. And I’m going to suggest in that book that people gather up good news stories so that they can cheer themselves up, like you say you have. So it sounds as though you know about the Jane Goodall Institute Roots and Shoots program. And if you don’t, well, you can just look up rootsandshoots.org, and you’ll see what it’s all about. And there are some groups in Mexico, but you can start your own and you sound just the kind of young person that I need to help me to spread hope… young people to take action to make it a better place. So thank you for your lovely message.

Shawn Sweeney 3:31
Our next hope caster is Andrea Ferrari, she is from Argentina.

Hopecaster 2 3:38
My strongest reason for hope is life itself. And Jane Goodall has had a lot to do with finding even more reasons for hope in my students and my Roots and Shoots groups. And, as she always says, “telling stories can make a long job,” so I also like writing stories. And that gives me hope.

Jane Goodall 4:07
Well, thank you for that lovely message, Andrea. And indeed storytelling is so important. You know, when people ask me, “Well, Jane, if you meet somebody who doesn’t agree with you, how do you tackle that?” And I say, “Well, one thing I never do is confront them and especially aggressively because if you want somebody to think differently, it’s no good arguing with them. You need to reach the heart. And to reach the heart, telling stories is the very best way. And fortunately, I’ve lived long enough that usually there’s an appropriate story for almost any situation. So I’m really happy to hear that you are working with Roots and Shoots and finding that telling stories is making a difference in the way that you reach and teach your students. So keep it up. And please share some of your stories with us. We’d love to hear them. Storytelling is wonderful.

Shawn Sweeney 5:07
Indeed. So we’ll move on to our next Hopecaster here, Meg Gibson, who comes from Canada.

Hopecaster 3 5:15
Hi, Jane, I have a question I hope you’ll be able to answer. I’m wondering how you take care of your mental health during these difficult times, and how you prevent feelings of, like, anxiety and depression and negativity about the future of our planet from taking a negative toll on your psychological well-being. Because it seems like there’s so many people in our world who are so negative about the future, or who seem like they don’t care enough to make an effort to help the planet. I’m wondering how you deal with all of this negativity and apathy from people and how you maintain your mental health so that you are able to inspire others. Thank you.

Jane Goodall 5:58
Well, you know, I’ve lived a long time on this planet. And, yes, there’s a lot of bad, gloomy news, but the thing to do when you hear something bad is see if there’s some way that you can do something about it. It’s all about taking action to make the world better. Once you start taking action, then you feel more hopeful, because you feel more fulfilled. And you feel Well, anyway, whatever happens, I’m doing my bit. And that’s the very important thing. So my mental health, it hasn’t bothered me at all, I’ve been locked down or “grounded,” as I call it at home in England, the house I grew up in. And I’m surrounded by everything I had as a child. And outside we have a garden. And the trees are there that I climbed as a child. And every day I go and have my sandwich under a special tree called Beach. And I’m joined by a robin. Right now they paired up, so I’ve got two robins and a blackbird. And today I had a little Jenny wren. So looking at nature, seeing how plants, after the cold winter — it’s spring, and they’ve come out with new blossoms and new leaves, and how nature is so, so quick to recover, if we give it a chance. So I get depressed sometimes, of course, but then think, “Well, okay, I’m going to do something about it.” Living the moment and doing my best — that’s the way I overcome these things.

Shawn Sweeney 7:31
Those are really helpful things, I think for people to, to know. And taking action but also the small things that, you know, restore you like your time in the garden and in nature.

Jane Goodall 7:44
It’s also, you know, wonderful stories out on the internet. And there are books. I’ve, you know, I grew up with books, because there wasn’t any TV. So reading a good book — sometimes a very frivolous book — but it can take you into another world. And my mother taught me that when I was a child, but if you’re miserable, come up with a good book and go into another world. And then when you finished it, you’ll feel different.

Shawn Sweeney 8:09
I know we share our love of Lord of the Rings that way.

Jane Goodall 8:13
That’s right.

Shawn Sweeney 8:24
Our next Hopecaster here that we’re going to — this is actually a written message that came in from Anissa Harry, we actually don’t know what country she’s from. But we’ll go ahead with Anissa. Anissa writes, “Hello, Jane, I hope you’re doing well. I can never thank you enough for the impact you’ve had on my life. I first learned about you in the fourth grade. And now, at 21, I can truly attribute my love of animals to you. From working at animal shelters to dog kennels, and at a veterinary clinic, I have devoted my life to animals. You were the one that allowed me to see the bond between us and our furrier counterparts. You never fail to warm my heart and give me hope. Thank you, Jane. Warmly, Anissa.”

Jane Goodall 9:12
Well, thank you for that message. And I’m always so happy to hear that I’ve made a difference in helping people to understand who animals are. And, you know, the weird thing is that scientists used to believe that we humans were completely different from animals. So it’s a difference of kind, and that animals couldn’t feel fear, or happiness, or pain, even. And of course, I learned from my dog when I was a child that that wasn’t true, that animals have personalities, and many of them can solve problems. And they certainly know happiness, sadness, fear, despair, and pain. So people like you who truly care about animals and are helping them — really you’re making a difference. And I’m absolutely sure that what you’re doing and the way you feel will inspire other people around you, all around the world. There are young people who love animals. The chimpanzees help people to understand that we really are a part of the animal kingdom. Because biologically, we’re so like them, as well as in behavior. So keep it up and go on helping animals. And that will go on giving you hope, [I’m] sure.

Shawn Sweeney 10:30
We’ll go to our next one. And this is actually from your home country there, in the United Kingdom: Heidi Campbell.

Hopecaster 4 10:40
Hello, Jane. My name is Heidi. I am 11-years-old, and I’m from the UK. Through listening to and watching you share your experiences and your hopes for the future, you have inspired me to want to do all I can for our planet. We have so many amazing species, and it saddens me that many of these are under threat. And so we must have hope. I have recently done a couple of things to try and encourage others to care for our planet. I’ve designed some postcards, which I sell. And I’ve done a sponsored eight-hour art-a-thon to raise money for Ol Pejeta Conservancy, who are working to save the northern white rhinos. I’ve been enjoying the Hopecast who have done each week. And whilst there are many questions, I would love to ask you, the following question is what I’m most keen to know: How did you feel when you first got close to the chimps without them running away? I look forward to hearing more Hopecasts come.

Jane Goodall 11:34
Thank you for your message. So how did I feel the first time I got near a group of chimps? It was by mistake. I’d seen them on the other side of a narrow ravine, and I thought to myself, “If I can get to that tree, which isn’t too close, I’ll be able to see them better.” So I crossed the ravine and climbed up the other side, and accidentally arrived much closer to the chimpanzees than I’d meant to. And they looked up, and they didn’t run away. And I think was the proudest moment of my life. I’d finally, after months of having them family and run off, they finally had begun to accept me. Mind you there werea still many, many more weeks when many of the individuals still ran away. But that was the beginning, that was the breakthrough. And it was thanks to the one amazing David Greybeard, the chimpanzee who began to lose his fear of me first. He was in that group. And I swear that it was because he sat there calmly, that the others, they must have looked from him to me and back again. And I suppose they thought, “Well, he can’t be so frightening, after all.” That’s how I felt, and thank you for asking that question. Because when you ask a question like that, and I answer it, it takes me back in time, and I feel that feeling again. I felt as I told you, that pride, that excitement. “Finally, finally finally I’d made it.”

Shawn Sweeney 13:07
And every time we get to hear you tell that story, we feel like we are right there with you. So wonderful. Thank you for that Dr. Jane. And it’s so great to hear young people who are talking about the actions that they’re taking every day also asking questions about chimpanzees, because it means that we’re connecting all those dots, which is really wonderful.

Jane Goodall 13:31
Absolutely.

Shawn Sweeney 13:33
Those are the last messages that we have for this session of our mailbag. Before we wrap up, though, we want to end with a little bit of an invitation to our Hopecasters around the world. I’d love for them to hear from you about the kinds of mail that you hope to receive.

Jane Goodall 13:53
Well, actually, I’m more interested in what you’re interested in. Everybody’s different. And so I’d love to get Hopecasters who have different views ask questions on anything. It doesn’t have to be chimpanzees, doesn’t have to be my life. It can be about anything you like. I can’t always promise I’ll be able to answer it. I’m not an Einstein by any manner of means. But just tell your thoughts. Ask, and I’ll try and answer any questions that are thrown my way.

Shawn Sweeney 14:28
Jane, this was so fun to be a part of with you. I love being behind the scenes of the Hopecast. And I can’t wait to hear from more of our Hopecasters for our next mailbag episodes.

Jane Goodall 14:43
Well, yes, Shwan. It was it was lovely that you were on this particular mailbag.

Shawn Sweeney 14:48
Thank you, Jane.

Jane Goodall 14:50
Thanks, Shawn.

Feel hopeful and inspired to act with a Jane Goodall Hopecast by subscribing on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and anywhere podcasts are found. I’m your host, Jane Goodall. The Jane Goodall Hopecast is produced by the Jane Goodall Institute. Our production partner is FRQNCY Media. Michelle Khouri is our executive producer, Enna Garkusha is our producer, and Matthew Ernest-Filler is our editor and sound designer. Our music is composed and performed by Ruth Mendelssohn with additional violin tracks from Angie Shear. Sound design and music composition for the Conservation Chorus is by Matthew Ernest-Filler.


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The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

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About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Communications & Policy Officer at the Jane Goodall Institute, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is currently pursuing a MS in Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University. She has a varied background including conservation, art, communications, digital media, design, photography, and documentary filmmaking. Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in magic of storytelling to change hearts and minds. Through growing understanding and empathy, she believes it is possible to ignite positive change, every day.