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Jane Goodall, Suzi Gablik, Judy Wicks, Robin Wall Kimmerer: My Mentors

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

(photo of us from years ago, with my camera, taken by a kind stranger who didn't seek payment attribution!)

Who are your mentors? I consider four extraordinary women to be among mine. I have met Dr. Jane Goodall in person, Judy Wicks via two interviews I conducted. I was blessed to be invited to stay in the art & nature home of Suzi Gablik, pioneering culture writer whose books and ideas became the foundation of my masters thesis "What is Art For". Finally, I have had brief email correspondence (I'll take that ;-) with poetic botanist Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, though I know her teachings well.

Dr. Jane Goodall: When my sons Gabriel and Baird were younger, they loved animals, as do most children. So one day, in the early 2000's, we took off work and school and traveled to Northern Virgina to meet Dr. Jane Goodall, who was giving a speech. Our informal meeting resulted in extended personal correspondence (how did she find the time?!) initiated and maintained by this pioneering & impactful woman! Back when postcards and letters were a thing. What a thrill it was to receive letters and postcards from Dr. Jane. Check out Dr. Jane's children-focused Roots & Shoots program, still going strong.

Judy Wicks: In 2006, as podcast host for a progressive parallel government, I interviewed Philadelphia-based Judy Wicks on her groundbreaking work starting a business for good while advancing the concept of local living, or circular economies. Judy was a nominee for our imagined Department of Labor. Now that I look back, I recognize that I first heard about women's leadership in eco-business and local living economies from her. Fast forward to Echotopia: In 2014, Judy mentored me in a lengthy phone call in the run up to Echotopia's opening farmers market season, offering me great advice and contacts. More recently, in 2020, I was thrilled to learn about Judy's new projects via our Solutionary Rail video interview.

Suzi Gablik: I learned of Suzi in the 1990's through my London friends at PLATFORM. Her books The Re-Enchantment of Art, and especially Conversations Before the End of Time, changed my life. In 2005, I stayed in her glorious home in Blacksburg, VA where I also brought her to a peace conference where I was a presenter. In her role as brave culture writer, Suzi Gablik challenged the power male-dominated moneyed art world with her brilliant, holistic vision for artful living and making 'art'. In her writing, Suzi's paradigm-shifting ideas were crystal clear: no false, cloudy, obscure words or ideas.

My friend James Marriott, who first introduced me to Suzi, wrote this tribute & obituary for Suzi Gablik.

Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer: whom I only recently discovered AFTER I had set up shop at Echotopia. Can I have an after-my-business-started mentor? See my blog post on poet botanist Dr. Kimmerer.

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