Jensen: The woman we all should have known


On Sept. 10 I could think of no other woman whose global influence has impacted so many lives as Anita Roddick.

Dame Anita Roddick lived in Britain, but dedicated her soul to the world. I never had the pleasure of meeting Dame Anita. But, I know that her bravery, business acumen and concern for all people touched my life.

She leaves us, her husband, and two daughters with a legacy to be admired, respected, and looked to for inspiration and guidance.

Dame Anita’s illustrious and socially conscious life included an education in teaching (Bath College of Higher Education), work for the United Nations, ownership of The Body Shop until 2006, and an exemplary record of achievement in humanitarianism.

Her life achievements include numerous awards in the areas of business ethics, business leadership, environment, Officer of the British Empire and an award for “Chief Wiper-Away of Ogoni Tears,” from the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Nigeria in 1999.

The connection that I share with Anita is multifold. In the 1990s my father, Dr. Carl Jensen, announced that Anita wanted to fund Sonoma State University’s Project Censored. At the time, Project Censored had published yearly books announcing the 10 most censored stories on a shoestring budget.

Anita’s gracious offer of funding helped Project Censored continue to bring significant stories to the public forum in a substantial way. Upon learning about the Body Shop through Dr. Jensen, I sought out her wares at The Body Shop. I was, as an environmentally conscious person, pleasantly surprised by the company’s product line.

True to her personal philosophy of healthy living, Anita’s company provided products that passed all environmental and animal protection activist concerns. Not only that, but Dame Anita sought the release of Nigeria’s social and environmental activist, Ken Saro Wiwa.

As an Environmental Studies and Planning Major at Sonoma State University I was touched by Anita’s call to save Nigeria’s forests, protect the Ogoni people, and release Ken Saro Wiwa from Nigeria’s prison.

The message I learned from her brave activism, care for people and the environment represents, absolutely, the ethos of love. Anita’s documented care for all transcended every act of humanitarianism I have witnessed in my life to date. This is a woman we all should have known, for she was humorous, loving, and gave to so many with all of her heart.

May we all be blessed with having known of Anita’s great work in our world.

Pia Jensen grew up in Santa Rosa and is former vice-mayor of Cotati. She visits Lake County on occasion to see family. She lives in Florida.