The Last Message Becky Wrote To You

posted by Rainforest Action Network

Becky visionaryFor the last two weeks, we’ve been grieving the loss of RAN’s beloved executive director, Rebecca Tarbotton, who died tragically on December 26.

In late December, Becky was working on a letter to you that she planned to send in the New Year. We’ve decided to share the full letter below.

We will warn you that reading this letter will be hard. It was written by an inspirational visionary and friend who was robbed from us too soon. But we felt it was important to share the full letter because it presents a vision for 2013 that we all share, and it’s about you.

We are asking that you leave a comment below or reply via email to with your thoughts on this vision, and on how we can join forces in 2013 in new and more fearless ways. Because, as Becky put it so perfectly, “protecting forests, our climate and human rights really doesn’t happen without you.”

Dear friends,

RAN has a vision for 2013, but it only works if you see it as your vision too. It’s big, it’s bold and it will take all of us.

I will tell you up front that all I am asking of you in this letter is for you to let me know you’re with us.

We on the RAN staff and Board believe that our core purpose is to protect endangered forests, move the country off of fossil fuels and defend human rights. And that the best possible way to do that is with effective, innovative and hard-hitting environmental corporate campaigning powered by people like you and me. If that resonates for you then you should keep reading.

You’ve tasked us to think through the strategies most effective for protecting forests, the climate and human rights. You’ve tasked us with doing the research, the writing, the negotiating with some of the world’s largest corporations and worst polluters.

But I need to also task you with something too. I need you to redouble your commitment to be part of this network that is needed to protect forests and the climate. You are the muscle behind our strategies. I don’t say this to make you feel good. I say it because it’s the truth. And if you believe me, it means doing more work than you ever thought you would do for our environment.

In 2013, you and I, the network powerful enough to inspire long-term change from corporate giants like Burger King, Home Depot, Citibank and Disney, have a big role to play. I believe that the most important places for us to put our collective energy in 2013 are:

• Defend ground zero for rainforest protection: Indonesia

Why the forests of Indonesia? Because that is where deforestation is happening at the most alarming rate. If Indonesia’s rainforests go, we will have to find a way to explain to our grandchildren why orangutans and Sumatran tigers no longer exist. And if we lose these forests, our climate emissions will increase exponentially.

This year, you will be asked to get even more involved in stopping the two main culprits of this deforestation: paper companies, like Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), and palm oil suppliers, like Cargill. In the first few months of the year, I hope you will join us so that we can go after APP like never before and launch a new campaign that gets unsustainable palm oil off our grocery store shelves.

• Double down on climate activism: Cut funding for fossil fuels

The clean energy revolution that you and I want to see cannot happen while the biggest banks in the country are funding fossil fuels. Together, we will follow the money. If you’re game, this can be the year we use every tool in our toolbox to push Bank of America, the leading funder of the coal industry, to dump fossil fuels for clean energy. And the year we take big action to push climate onto the forefront of the President’s agenda.

• Build our collective power

Last year, we spent a lot of time talking about you. Thinking about how to bring you ever closer, how to expand our numbers, and how we leverage our collective strength. But our next step is to listen. We plan to do a lot of listening to you in 2013, to hear what your visions are for our network, and to dream and scheme ways to build our power together. We need your help to get louder, to be bolder and to have the most powerful impact. Will you join us to expose APP for the first time ever in North America with your social media networks, to build awareness about the problems with palm oil community by community, to leverage your dollars to push Bank of America out of the coal industry? Will you ask your friends to join? What more could you do, would you do in your community, online, in the streets as part of RAN?

I know that there are a lot of other pressing issues out there. But I believe in focus and in high leverage fights that can catalyze big changes.

So, it’s going to be a big year. And it needs to be.

We are in the midst of what history will undoubtedly call the next industrial revolution. And the evidence that it’s happening is all around us, if we care to look. In 2012, people like you helped shutter 125 coal plants and inspired Disney to transform everything about the way it uses paper.

So, not to sound cheesy, but our big vision for 2013 is you. This is a community that can see windmills replacing coal fields. That believes a tree is worth more standing than cut down for paper. That knows people power can trump corporate power. Protecting forests, our climate and human rights really doesn’t happen without you…nothing happens without you.

Together, I know we can take on the biggest, most well-funded polluters and exploiters in the world—and win. I know because I’ve seen it, from our Burger King victory in 1987 to our Disney win last year.

I cannot thank you enough for the emails you’ve sent, the calls you’ve made, the funds you’ve given, the rallies and protests you’ve attended. It’s hard to grasp the enormity of our huge accomplishments as a network. I hope you’re as ready as I am for the possibilities of 2013.

For the future, for our forests,

Becky Tarbotton