First, I wish to thank all of you who so kindly sent emails, phone calls, cards and stopped by to offer a reassuring hug to me and others at LandPaths. Your support and grace has meant a great deal to our extended LandPaths Family.
The very first time I became aware of Jonathan Glass was on top of Red Hill on the Sonoma coast – a skinny, bearded guy in polypropylene long underwear, just after 9/11 had brought he and Amie from their round the world travels back home – back to in fact to volunteer for a beloved LandPaths' school program teacher, his mother, Linda Glass.
We quickly assimilated Jonathan into the fabric of the organization as a paid staffer, where be began helping with outings, property management and work days with our small army of volunteers. Lee and I quickly recognized one of his skills: a deep capacity for listening to and understanding people.
For the next three years Jonathan and I worked very closely; Mutt and Jeff style, him listening to my stories and coaching, me gesticulating wildly about most any opinion that would enter into my cranium that I felt would illustrate landowner care, working with the public and public agency partners. This arrangement ended by virtue of my handing over the reins of several major projects – the management of Willow Creek State Park and LandPaths' long-running partnership with the County Ag Preservation and OPen Space District -- providing public access to protected land around Sonoma County.
At first he introduced me as his boss because, well, I was his boss. Later on he introduced me in the field to public groups because people largely no longer knew who I was, by virtue of the fact that I spent my time at the office now, owing to Jonathan’s deft and grace under fire in the field with the public.
I must let you in on perhaps a little known secret outside of LandPaths: Jon ONLY expressed his intolerance - even anger - at two things in the work environment: first, Telemarketers calling LandPaths and trying to sneak through the phone tree in order to offer any one of a number of services to any and all managers. He would lean into the phone, lower his voice and demand, "take us off your phone list, it's the law." To say that he frightened these poor souls from Iowa Falls to Mumbai would be an understatement.
The only other thing that appeared to ever anger Jonathan was when a government agency got in its own way to the point it denied the county’s people access to the lands and places that were rightfully theirs. He had a deep-seated sense of fairness and an unwavering egalitarian nature.
Over time, the polypropylene, beard and ponytail made way for checkered shirts and slacks...shirts that increasingly matched his leprechaun green eyes. And those leather shoes that came from some place I could only presume to be an earth store shoe outlet in Davis California where he attended school. On the subject of shoes, one day Jonathan received a call that cows had gotten loose on the next door property and were threatening the native wetlands at the County's Carrington Ranch property, one of his early stewardship projects. Because calls to the East Bay to the landowner with the wandering bovines (that went unanswered) and the herdsman for the cattle only had a P.O. Box in Tomales, Jon set out for the coast in his small sedan.
Back in the office later that day, Jonathan strode in, knapsack over one shoulder - up to his knees – including those fancy shoes, in mud. He received several accolades from our largely female staff, and the temporary title of Hummus - Hippie man open space Cattle Wrangler from his boss.
The following week we repaired that fence with volunteers…some of whom are in the hall with us today; I was happy to serve as his assistant that day.
The final vignette I will share with you is of a trip the two of us made to a conference in Madison, Wisconsin. We were presenting to nearly 250 people interested in LandPaths brand of public engagement with open space where “civic adoption” is emphasizedoverdollars and the counting of license plates filing past an entrance gate.
I had booked us a Bed-and-Breakfast because it was cheaper and sounded more interesting than the conference center hotel…and we settled into a beautiful turn of the century Mission four story residence. The room we had was named after two local architects Claude and Starke. Given the size of the suite (basically an entire floor comprised of one huge room with 2 beds, desks, fire place and sitting parlor) – we quickly took on the personas for some fun. I was Mr. Claude, Jonathan Mr. Starke; which is precisely how we addressed each other as we sipped afternoon tea and looked at our conference notes.
Mr. Starke took off on his rented bicycle one afternoon, with his shoulder bag en route to the Frank Lloyd Wright convention center, and eventually on to the western states regional gathering for a beer with colleagues. When he arrived in the clear Wisconsin afternoon, he was grinning wildly, his shoulder bag still flapping about. The look on his face said it all “I’m a professional, I can do this and for a cause I love; and I can do this all STILL and be on a bicycle!”
We will always miss Jonathan and remember his incredible kindness, sense of inclusivity, love for people and land. Even in the darkness of his struggles – obvious to those of us who knew and loved him at work – he was never the least bit unkind.
I know in my heart that I speak on behalf of Lee - Rebecca - Autumn and Bree; Meg - Heather - Magdalena - Nettie - Linda and Leslie - Bravo - Sheridan - Alfredo - Omar, Lansia, Jean, Nita and Beth - Meach and Bruce, Liz and Gordon and Pat – Joan and David and Steven – Melanie, Edward and Michael…that some part of the hole in our hearts that has been rent WILL be filled, filled by our striving now and in the future to answer the most mundane questions with care, to care for people calmly and with respect outdoors, and to envision an urban cum ex-urban cum ranch cum wildland – all the more connected and accessible - as a birthright for those of us that call Sonoma County “home”
Craig Anderson, Executive Director
If you were unable to be present at the memorial service for Jonathan Glass but would like to share in the experience visit: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/jonathan-glass-memorial