In 2021, a colleague asked if I’d like to interview Goodall about her Trees for Jane initiative and I leapt at the chance. The best part of this interview may have been hearing about a tree Jane loved when she was a child. She spoke to me from the home her family has occupied since that time, looking out the window at that very tree.
“When I was a child, I loved Beech so much. I did my homework up there. I read books up there. I went to the tree when I was sad. When I was ten, I wrote out my own version of a will,” Goodall told me. It stated that her grandmother, who owned the house, would leave Jane her favorite tree. “She signed it and left me Beech.”
Until sheltering in place began in March 2020, Goodall had been on the road up to 300 days a year, imploring adoring audiences to care for the planet and all its inhabitants: the chimps, the trees, the humans, fish great and small, and everyone else. But the pandemic sent Goodall back to her family home, where she tirelessly continued her work via Zoom conversations and presentations.
I first met Goodall in 2007, in an interview in her hotel room, where we spoke for about a half hour. She was warm and gracious and though I was probably one of thousands of people to interview her that year, she gave me her undivided attention and was genuinely warm and interested in my life. She truly walks her talk.
After the 2021 interview, Goodall said she remembered me which I found astounding because it had been 14 years since we’d spoken at length and also because she’s said she has a disorder that makes it hard for her to remember faces.
Even better, Trees for Jane co-founder Jeff Horowitz told me, “Jane loves you; she thinks you’re a great interviewer.” It doesn’t get any better than that.