Hero and Friend.
A little over a week ago the world lost a great and wonderful human being, a man who had given his energies and his passion and dedicated a large portion of his adult life to sounding the alarm about global warming and climate change. That man, Dan Friedlander, was a dear friend. He inspired me. He made me think. He made me smile. He challenged me. And he made himself a friend – not just to me, but to his neighborhood, his city, his state, his country and his world.
On a personal, very human level, Dan’s offer of friendship was expressed in a dozen ways. He and his wife Diane would invite Nanette and me to a play, a movie, a party or an art opening. We would celebrate Chinese New Year together. He more than once suggested we should move next door so he could come over to cook for us. I know how silly that sounds, but he meant it. I wish we had.
Dan was an artist. Check out danfriedlander.com to catch a glimpse of some of his work. It inspired me. When he was still working in marketing or sales for tech companies, Dan used to take his clay with him and create while he flew from one city to the next. He produced hundreds, no thousands, of these utterly remarkable kiln-fired tiles.
If he had only been an artist, he’d have accomplished more than most in his too short life. But Dan was much much more.
Dan was a guy who made things happen. He helped start several important groups and initiatives that took action to fight global warming including photographer and filmmaker, James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey and Clean Energy Action (CEA).
CEA describes Dan as a “planetary hero,” and that is exactly how I think of him.
Dan was also deeply involved in Shanahan Neighbors for Climate Action (SNCA), a grassroots neighborhood organization dedicated to creating a strongly connected community working together to foster a sustainable future.
In a phone conversation years ago, we talked about whether the systems and institutions that support and sustain could be tweaked and managed to drive the planet down a sustainable path. If so, what tweaking would be required? If not, what then? What if the survival of the planet necessarily meant the undoing of some of our most established ways of thinking, acting and being in the modern world? So we formed a small group to discuss some of these things, and in that group I learned over the next several years from some of the smartest people I know about coal fired power plants, work, political initiatives, grass roots initiatives, publications.
And Dan and his wife Diane hosted more fundraisers than anyone else I know. Their home was so frequently a key meeting place, open to all sorts of people who came to learn, connect, mingle, share, and contribute to the cause.
The Washington Post reported on July 17th, 2012 that a chunk of ice twice the size of Manhattan had separated from Greenland’s Petermann glacier.
Andreas Muenchow, an associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware, said the glacier’s end point is now at “a location where it has not been for at least 150 years.”
Jim Balog’s Extreme Ice Survey addresses an important question: “What can I do?” To Jim’s great list, I’d add this. Do what Dan did. Talk about the problem. Get involved and connected. Organize. Host a discussion. Help raise some money. And give. Give to two of the organizations Dan helped start: Earth Vision Trust, funding the climate change education and outreach efforts of James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey, 4780 Sterling Dr., Boulder, CO 80301; and Clean Energy Action (CEA), accelerating the transition to a post-fossil-fuel world built on clean energy, Leslie Glustrom, P. O. Box 1399, Boulder, CO 80306.
The great thing about a hero: a hero inspires the heroic in others. That’s what Dan did.