I received sad news that my boss from my time in Telluride, and my good friend, Glen Harcourt, died in a plane crash over the weekend. Beyond being a great boss and a great friend, Glen was a mentor, an inspiration, a hero.
Glen’s work in moving society towards sustainability was monumental – this article from July 2005 offers a good overview of what he was up to, from green building, solar power, and bio-diesel to community engagement, research and non-profit work.
He had an ingrained sense of what sustainability meant that was palpable and contagious. He had the invaluable skill of conveying the message and its urgency without losing optimism and the joyful sense of opportunity that accompanied that urgency. He not only knew the right direction that we as a society must move but he pulled others along with him. And he pushed others, that were not eager to follow or who stood in the way, with the respectable strength of a statesman.
He blended the rational skills – the logic, the engineering, the building, the science – that we need to save ourselves with the spiritual intuition of understanding why we need to, in a seamless whole. He kept us in line, while keeping it fun. I learned so much from him, and the atmosphere that he fostered, as well as the people that were drawn to him and to Steeprock.
I always thought I would have the opportunity to return to Steeprock, maybe to work, maybe to share what I’ve learned since my time there – which I could not have learned without that experience – with the Steeprockers and the community. But mostly to take a few runs with Glen. To thank him. To tap into a fresh stream of inspiration from him. To tell him what I’ve been up to and how he influenced that. And, hopefully, to make him proud.
One of Glen’s favorite lines was “this isn’t a dress rehearsal” – whether we were talking about how to get around an archaic piece of code that was keeping us from building a composting toilet, or pondering the potential of rigging up a zip-line across the entire valley over to an old mine shaft.
And he lived his life that way. He was an Olympic-caliber skier (I’ll never forget watching him launch a 720 off a lip in a pair of telemarks), a great lacrosse player (starting face-off man for UNH back when they had a top program), an avid pilot. I rarely saw him sitting still, he knew there was too much living to do, too much to enjoy – he didn’t miss any of it.
He was a force – he was a man of action and he was righteous. And he blended the two with grace and good humor. He was a leader, working relentlessly on the most vital challenge humanity has ever faced: creating a sustainable society.
While he will be missed, his spirit and his work will live on – in his family, in Steeprock and each one of whose lives he touched. Stay going…