Thanks to my sister Michelle McIlroy for designing the logo!


Ever since I was a child, I have been very interested in nature and the environment. I have a B.S. degree in wildlife biology, and have worked as a zookeeper, wildlife biologist, and ecologist. I am conducting a brief survey of world leaders, government officials, religious leaders, corporate CEOs, environmental groups, wildlife experts, and others regarding nature and the environment. I am also very interested in religious views, customs, and beliefs from around the world, and the interactions between religion, culture, society, and the environment. This is something I am doing out of personal interest, and is not connected to any group or organization. I have been working on this project since the summer of 2006, and hope to eventually turn it into a book and/or documentary. I am hoping to make this into a global project, with responses from all segments of society. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments. If you have not already done so, I hope that you will consider taking part in my project, and please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested! Thanks for stopping by!


January 29, 2007

Joni Spigler

PhD Candidate, Department of the History of Art, University of California, Berkeley

Today’s Date: January 28, 2007

1. What interaction with an animal and/or nature in your life has had the biggest impact on you?

When I was a little girl I had a horse named Cinnamon. We lived in Mesa, Arizona at the time, near the dry Salt River bed, and in those days I could ride my horse from the little stables down the road to Arizona State University without ever seeing another human being. Of course I wasn’t allowed to ride so far, but I was secretive and rebellious. I loved the silence of the desert, and seeing the lizards and roadrunners darting and flitting across path ahead of us as I rode. You become very aware of your surroundings while riding, because anything can spook a horse. I told Cinnamon all my secrets and learned to read in her movements her desires and fears. I loved the way the sunlight hit the earth in those days, and remember looking down on the bleached bones of many animals. It was wonderful to gallop down powdery paths with a combination of sheer joy and terror. And there were little “oases” where Cinnamon could wade in shallow ponds and drink or nibble grasses. Some years the Salt River would flood and my friends and I would watch as whole houses and trucks would be washed down river in front of our eyes. When I was a child I wasn’t really thinking about economics or human displacement, but I was always awed by how sublime nature was, whether seeing what a river could do or just encountering the vastness of the desert.

2. Did you have a favorite place in the great outdoors during your childhood?

The desert.

Now? I live in the Bay Area, and so I really do love to walk by the water and watch the lapping waves and changing light. I love tide pools and their little ecologies.

3. As a former zookeeper, I would love to know what your favorite animal is, and why?

I love my cat Kabuki. If I could *be* an animal I’d be a dolphin because they are smart and playful...or an otter because they are *always* playing. I think octopuses are fascinating to watch. I feel sorry for the elephants. And I love tigers. Jane Goodall’s “Chimpanzees, So Like Us” made me cry.

4. What do you think is the greatest environmental challenge facing us now, and what do you think will be the greatest challenge in the future?

Well, maybe this is the popular answer, but global warming. I understand that the big challenge will be to find a way to control global warming and its effects while not limiting the resources and technologies developing countries will have access to. But I also wish that, globally, we would learn to want something other than this world we are creating now.

5. If you could give everyone one piece of advice regarding the environment and our natural resources, what would it be?

Capitalism works under the assumption that resources are unlimited, but they simply are not. Our current economic philosophies and practices underlie most of the damage we are doing to our environment and we need to find a way to channel our innate desires into something other than the competitive struggle to have bigger and better stuff and “lifestyles”.

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