obituaries inspire me

Reading the Times this morning, I came across two headlines that grabbed my attention. They were both titles of obituaries, summing up a man’s life in four words. To have seemingly led such a focused life, dedicated to a specific environmental cause, intrigues me – a broad generalist. I also feel a mix of emotions for not having heard of these men before their respective deaths. A twinge of sadness, yes, but also a feeling of gratefulness that they graced this earth, leaving a positive impression on it. An impression strong enough to compel the web editor of The New York Times to publish it on the homepage.

Clarence Petty, Protector of the Adirondacks, dies at 104


It wasn’t his age that caught my eye (thought that number is quite impressive, no?). I have fond memories of hiking in the Adirondacks as a high school student, and have recently had the longing to feel those mountains under my feet again. I now know I can thank this man for securing the place for my return visit.

“If things go bad and everything seems to go wrong, the best place to go is right into the remote wilderness, and everything’s in balance there.”

~Clarence Petty

Read about Clarence Petty, how he was commissioned to survey the Adirondack park, how he was integral in protecting millions of acres of land, and how he attracted opposition.

Learn more about Clarence Petty on this dedication page on the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC-NY) site.

Malcolm Wells, Champion of ‘Gentle Architecture,’ dies at 83


After recently completing permaculture certification, I’m hyper aware of things like natural building, passive solar design, and earth-friendly structures (like this ‘hobbit home’ I tweeted about last week). As soon as I saw ‘gentle architecture’ in this obit synopsis, I immediately knew what Mr. Wells spent his life championing. He inspired the likes of William McDonough, who called him a ‘hidden jewel.’

“In the world of what has become known as green building,” Mr. McDonough added, “Malcolm Wells was seminal, actually inspirational, for some people, me included.”

Read more about Malcolm Wells, how he designed the RCA pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair, and how that led him down the path to create gentle architecture.

Visit where you can read his autobiographic obituary.

[image 1 credit; image 2 credit]


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