Farewell Becky Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network’s Visionary Director

Becky Tarbotton, 1973-2012.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rainforestactionnetwork/8318510066/in/set-72157632366274884/">Rainforest Action Network</a>/Flickr


Right around the time that Madeleine Buckingham and I were taking on new roles here at Mother Jones back in 2010, Becky Tarbotton was doing the same as the new executive director for Rainforest Action Network, one of the mainstays of in-your-face but really smart environmental organizing.

Maybe that’s why Becky and I hit it off so well: Figuring out these new jobs was definitely something we had in common.

Right from the start, though, it was really clear that Becky—one of a new generation of dynamic, inspiring, and field-tested visionaries coming into leadership roles in the environmental and social justice movement—was more than ready. She’d been program director at RAN for many years, knew the science, knew the policy world, and knew the importance of a kick-ass media operation and ground game.

No surprise, then, that during one of our first lunchtime conversations around the corner from RAN’s downtown San Francisco office, we talked about how best to pivot our organizations to best deal with the great, new, complicated challenges of the day—challenges that the inherited patterns of thought and practice just weren’t up to meeting.

I had no doubt that Becky would take RAN in the right direction. And she did. Take a look at the RAN website, and you’ll see what I mean.

But now Rainforest Action Network and all of us who care about the earth and justice and democracy will have to do it without her. Becky died in an accident while on vacation a few days ago. She was 39.

Becky was carved from passionate, steely, joyful stuff. She was a young force to be reckoned with. Her death is an especially hard one, when what we assume to be a natural order in succession is upended.

Our love and deepest condolences go out to Becky’s husband, Mateo, her brothers Jesse and Cameron, her mother, Mary, and the entire Rainforest Action community.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.