Written and presented by Molly Reiff at August Green Drinks, Friday August 31, 2012
Anyone who knows Lonnie probably knows a bit about Permaculture because it is very likely that that Permaculture is the reason you know him in the first place. A broad topic indeed, it can be boiled down to 3 basic principles…Earth Care, People Care, Resource Share. That is the lens through which I will talk about Lonnie tonight…
I’ve known Lonnie for 4 years now. We first met when I returned to my hometown of FF to attend a PDC course through Big Green Summer in June of 2008. I arrived at what I still think to be the most beautiful part of FF-the rolling hills of Lonnie’s homestead, which he opened to strangers to come together for 2 weeks to listen/learn/share/grow. The classroom was a strawbale barn equipped with rainwater catchment/composting toilets, garden beds galore and was truly a living laboratory for attendees to experience the delights of being off the grid for two weeks, creating the ideal compost mix, open-air shared meals harvested two steps from the table, sometimes learning inside the classroom with walls that breathe and sometimes under a tree or busy at work/play learning a new set of skills and seeing things with new eyes.
He has had virtually no utility bill for 20 some years, lives a lifestyle fueled by renewable energy sources-rain, wind, sun. Leaving that kind of experience truly moved and having felt how comfortable/even luxurious life felt when care of the earth was a priority in each action on this farm, each of us went out in the world and carried around that knowledge that Lonnie had shared with us and it played a part in our actions and our decisions and shaped our thinking and who we are to this day! And that was just one time around for this training. Think about how many courses he has taught over the years…how many presentations he has shared that have made an impact-however big or small-on someone’s life. Those minions J have shared pieces of that knowledge with others and impacted the way those people care for our earth. The Earth is in truly better hands because of all of the lives you have impacted.
“Lonnie’s perspective is millennial, sociological, global, and creative. Everything connects back to the wholeness of life on earth and the immediate relevance of my life, right now. “
“Lonnie has inspired me to walk my talk and live my life with much more integrity”
“Lonnie is a symbol of community. He seems to be friends with everyone: he has friends literally all around the world, with all kinds of professions and cultural backgrounds. He is always kind, receptive, and understanding of the range of perspectives that come up in discussions, and able to tie them back to the central questions of sustainability or to practical well-being in terms of a situation”
He knows almost all of the players in the field, if he doesn’t-he isn’t afraid to make connections and seek the people out that he feels will make a difference for others, even those literally on the other side of the globe. He just reaches out and good things often come of it. He was a major player in getting the FF Go Green Plan together-bringing together people from all backgrounds in that creation. People have been known to relocate to Fairfield just to have the opportunity to work more closely with him. He has been referred to as “the engine of the Sustainable Living Department”.
“His influence has transformed my life”
Lonnie has a passion for empowering new leaders, thinkers, and game-changers. For passing the torch to the next generation-you can see all of the young energy that enlivens the SL program, our community and beyond and Lonnie has had a hand in that. He is a walking library of information-knows which author/film to suggest for each situation…kind of like wine pairing with a fine meal. At the local Farmers’ Market he is like the pied piper with people following him asking advice/seeking to glean a bit of his knowledge. He can’t get out of that place in a hurry without an undercover disguise…that is truly rock star statusI I would guess many of us in this room are where we are in following our passions due to some interaction in the past with Lonnie. That permaculture course 4 years ago brought me here…tonight…and now I am moving into the SL Dept myself to continue to round out that knowledge for myself and to witness how it inspires others.
That’s what forming this local Green Drinks is for: people who are passionate about our Earth, coming together to make connections with others to exchange knowledge. Building Community/Awareness/Friendships->More Vital and Resilient Place to Live.
“Lonnie has been my education without going back to school. I owe my job to him”.
“His genuine care for all people, his way of understanding the living mechanics of sustainability and the world as it is now, and his ceaseless entrepreneurship, friendship-building, and constant application of the knowledge he teaches make Lonnie an ideal role model. I’m very grateful to have him as a teacher. “
I am honored to be able to work with you Lonnie because of your energy, enthusiasm & wealth of knowledge. I am equally honored to be asked to present this award this evening. From all of us to you…Lonnie: You are our Local Rockstar.