A star goes out

Elizabeth May

You probably know the name Anita Roddick. Maybe you have read about her as the phenomenon who launched Body Shop. I worked with her, knew her through a series of funny phone calls, met her husband and daughters and had a sense of her as an amazing innovator, but more importantly as a down to earth woman whose daughters and normal life and activism were higher on her list of achievements than the financial success of Body Shop.

She died yesterday of a major brain hemorrhage. Shocking news to have such a vital woman die so suddenly. At 64, she was engaged in a wide range of issues, including the fight to help those who, like her, contracted Hep C through tainted blood. This also led her to AIDS campaigns within Body Shop and more broadly.

My connection with her goes back to the late 1980s when, via David and Tara Cullis Suzuki, I got involved fighting to stop a dam in the Amazon. Anita Roddick was then working to source natural rain forest products, to assist in finding an economic benefit to local people for leaving the forest alone. I ended up working with Cultural Survival Canada, whose Harvard University based US partner was helping Anita start up "Trade Not Aid." We had Rainforest Crunch ice cream with Ben and Jerry's and oils and other rain forest products
going into Body Shop products.

Anita Roddick was a hoot. She was funny and irreverent and passionate. I cannot ever imagine she spent a single moment in her life feeling bored. She was entertaining at such a deep level, I am sure she kept herself well-amused if others did not.

Her death will be felt throughout many organizations, from Body Shop to Greenpeace. She will be sorely missed.