I didn’t know you, or ever met you, but feel great gratitude for your being – for the clarity of your work, and the way you responded to the challenges life gave you in a way that increased the coherence and relevance of your work rather than diminished it.
Again last week, listening to a tribute to you on the radio, my imagination and the way I think about things was challenged. My wish is that your work continues to make us think – and more importantly, live – as part of our beautiful, terrifying, amazing and inescapably real natural world rather than behaving as if we are somehow merely actors on it’s stage.
I first read Val’s work as an undergrad in about 93/94. I was so inspired by it that I got in touch with Val and we maintained correspondence over the years. Ultimately her work was the main inspiration for my PhD thesis, and my identification with ecofeminism.
A few years ago Val was a visiting Professor at Lancaster University where I now work. This was a great opportunity to hear Val speak, and we got to go hiking together in the Lake District. News of Val’s death was a jolt to me, but it’s very inspiring to think about the amazing contribution she gave to us all. I have posted a brief tribute to Val Plumwood on the ecofeminism web-site, http://www.ecofem.org
I’m sorry I can’t make any of the gatherings in Braidwood but I will certainly be there in spirit.
This seems the time to reveal that Val was ‘Barbara’ in the case study of discrimination published in my 1984 Report, Towards Equal Opportunity: Women and Employment at the Australian National University, pp. 118-121. The case study outlined the intersecting forms of discrimination experienced by Val in academic employment- on the grounds of marital status and later age, and also the way in which she challenged existing disciplinary paradigms.
I’m sorry I can’t be in Braidwood, but I am truly grateful to Val for what she did for the forests and trust her life will be well celebrated.
It was such a privilege to have met you and spend a weekend at your beloved Moutain in your presence. I was a big fan of your books and writings, and your thorough and insightful critiques of our culture. We had planned to do some wonderful things together, but these things will now need to be inspired by you and your life.
I loved that way you connected to your place and the creatures that lived there with you. Nature always took precedence in your life. Our walks around your land, our recogition of the presence of others, and our rock collecting, are rich and alive within me.
As you are now planted back into the soil, and as your body (do I dare say spirit) is captured by other lives, I acknowledge you as an true elder of the earth, and as inspiration and mentor for me in my journey on this earth.
I am so sorry not to be at your burial, but I hope to be able to visit your place sometime in the future.
May you be welcomed by the forest, and live as guardian of your place.
I am sorry I can not be at Plumwood Mountain this Sunday to celebrate your life and achievements. It was such an inspiration meeting you.
Your personal contribution to conservation over many years is highly regarded by all at the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. The protection of much of your property through a Voluntary Conservation Agreement and Wilderness declaration are practical testaments of your commitment to the environment and your love for the mountain.
I am so pleased your wishes have been fulfilled and you are to remain peacefully with the forest.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Val was my housemate in the late 1980s while teaching at Sydney Uni and living at Plumwood Mountain.
You were an elder in the true sense, inspiring us to search and find our answers to the large (and small) questions that perplexed us.
Your teachings inspired us to listen to the beings we thought had no voice.
I remember the nights you filled our little house with the music of the tin whistle and your friends with their fiddles and guitars, and Irish jigs and reels. I remember the laughs and jolly good times we had, the serious late night discussions.
My children were priveledged to meet you some few years ago. They remember our walk through the forest, talking of that forest and being in that place at that time.
We are unable to be at your buial. We always remember you. We thank you for the wisdom you gave us. We celebrate your return to the earth but mourn your absence from us.
As I camp at the base of Mt Barren, at the edge of a wilderness…the Fitzgerald National Park with my beloved camels; I think of you and the times we spent, both searching the Southern Ocean, watching the lacey white weave back into the expanding blue. I shall miss you as a “lover of all things great and small”. I will miss your wisdom. The earth will celebrate your return.
Loving you always.
Julia and Her Camels.
How you will be missed, but not forgotten. I will always remember the kindness and intellectual generosity that you showed me as a young honours student starting out on an ecofeminism journey all those years ago. You retold the story of the crocodile encounter as we sat on Plumwood mountain and it moved me to later write about ‘being prey’ in my PhD thesis. Nature was never an easy object of romantic identification nor an evil otherness for you. By unsettling those nature/culture, feminine/masculine boundaries you encouraged us to think differently, to act more reflexively and to live our ethics with courage, humour and vulnerability.
I’m grateful to have this opportunity to talk about Val Plumwood. I couldn’t make it to her funeral, and along with many, many other prople I want to pay my respects.
Val’s work iss incredibly important, and possibly not yet fully recognised by the wider community for its philosophical and ecological potential. It is not simply that she has produced a really impressive legacy but instead, something far more worthwhile. Val has been one of a handful of people who have opened up a space for rethinking what it is to be human and how to shake ourselves out of the dead-end of late modernity.
Possibly one of her last articles was submitted to me shortly before she died. It is called “Nature in the Active Voice”. It is coming out an edited collection titled _Climate Change and Philosophy; transformational possibilities_. It should be out at some stage next year.
Val will leave a real gap in advocates for ecologcialy sensitive, cultural change at a time when voices such as hers are sorely needed. Hopefully the rest of us will step up and realise some of the ideas that she has set out with so much thought and care!
I just learned about Val’s death today. I have many very warm memories of spending weekends with her and Jill Bowling (my former wife), both in Australia and in America. . I will always remember going to dinner at a restaurant near Val’s home in Braidwood, bringing along her pet wombat. The restaurant folks were happy to help prepare a bowl of (formula) wombat milk for the little wombat to eat while we ate dinner.
Jill was a very good friend of Val’s. Very sadly she died 20 months ago, in a tragic accident in Nepal. It is shocking for them both to be gone.
It’s been a year today (29 Feb 2008). The sting is still there. So is the gratitude and so are the lessons, which keep rolling out. Few did as much as Val to defend the bush and the hole she has left as a philosopher, friend and activist is very large. Looking forward to Val’s published work and a growing appreciation of her academic legacy.
Val figures prominently in part of my book DARK GREEN RELIGION: NATURE SPIRITUALITY AND THE PLANETARY FUTURE, which is introduced at my website. The crocodile taught her a lesson, and thus, many of us, too.
One of those days when twigs don’t crack on
the fox-trod path to any part of a forest.
White gumtree bark curls round an unsparked fire
so tight, the dry perspective goes awol
in the sky grid, slow siphon of a greeting,
vacuums footprints, old movie in reverse.
Black and white to blue, the canopy thieves
from the spheres, trills the rain song to the leaf.
The wood is the walker on Plumwood Mountain,
indifferent from the active voice.
Val heard. Those crows knew her in that instant.
Here by the supercontinental strand,
ground ochre, the sea-green lichen company,
they fall to cawing in the murderous court.