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Rose Parade Grand Marshal Jane Goodall brings message of stewardship, conservation as Tournament makes efforts to go greener

By Sara Cardine 12/27/2012

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In 1960, a young Jane Goodall took her first tentative steps onto the shores of Lake Tanganyika in present-day Tanzania and beheld an uncertain future.

At 26, without any university training, armed with only a notebook and a pair of binoculars, she was about to observe a community of chimpanzees living in Gombe Stream National Park.

Little did she know her fledgling work would change forever humanity’s understanding of apes, or that those initial observations would help transform the young Englishwoman into a United Nations Ambassador for Peace and a spokeswoman for environmentalism and the stewardship of endangered animal populations.

Today, Goodall travels the world — an average of 300 days each year — raising awareness of the plight of chimpanzees living in rainforests, which provide vital water resources and are critical to the global climate but which are threatened by man.

“I also discuss other environmental issues and share my reasons for hope that we can save threatened species, the planet, and ultimately ourselves by making positive change each and every day,” she said.

Goodall’s long journey, beginning with those first steps on Tanganyika’s sandy shores, leads her Tuesday to Pasadena, where she will serve as grand marshall of the 124th Rose Parade and throw the opening coin toss at the Rose Bowl game.

Goodall lectured at Caltech for 11 years in a row, so she knows a thing or two about the city, but it still seems a slightly unusual pairing (after all, to Goodall, “football” means soccer). The timing, however, couldn’t have been better for the Tournament of Roses, which this year is placing a special emphasis on reducing its environmental impact through the employment of “greening strategies.”

Upon the April 25 announcement of the anthropologist’s selection as grand marshal, Sally Bixby, 2013 Tournament of Roses president, said, “We are hoping to learn from Dr. Goodall as we continue to look for ways to make our events more sustainable in the area of resource management to promote long-term behavioral change.”

Goodall, who spoke to the Weekly in an email interview, said she was surprised and thrilled to learn through her Jane Goodall Institute that she had received this year’s honor. She hopes her involvement in the city’s longstanding tradition will help spread the message that a world of good can spring from a single step and that saving and protecting the environment is as easy as making simple changes for the better every day.

“I hope that by participating in the parade and other Tournament events I can encourage everyone involved in the festivities to consider the environment in all that they do,” she said, praising the Tournament of Roses’ efforts toward sustainability. “I’m pleased to know that the Tournament has taken and is taking steps to reduce its environmental impact through sustainable practices and programs to encourage recycling and waste reduction.”

Some of those practices are proactive, including drawing energy from the electrical grid, as opposed to diesel generators, and the reduction of paper and plastic waste. Others focus on the reuse of equipment and furniture and the recycling of cardboard and other materials. This idea, that big things can be accomplished from taking a single step, is central to Goodall’s philosophy, and she hopes to impart that to audiences and young people, in particular.

“For me, New Year’s Day is an opportunity to make change, and I hope that we can all work together to make positive change — for people, animals and the environment — to improve this planet we call home,” she said.

Goodall encourages youth who may be watching the Rose Parade or Rose Bowl Game to consider making a difference in their communities by volunteering with local organizations, or through larger national and global efforts, such as her own Roots & Shoots program, which focuses on service projects and youth-led campaigns.

Meanwhile, Goodall herself will continue to prepare for Tuesday’s obligations. To get herself ready for game day, she admitted she’s invoking help from younger generations.

“I’ve been asking my grandsons all about American football as I am not at all familiar with the game,” she confessed. “I’m also a bit nervous about the coin toss, but I’ll be sure to practice in advance!”

To learn more about Jane Goodall, her work and programs, visit janegoodall.org and rootsandshoots.org.

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