Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Great Man, a great loss, a great life…


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.

http://www.ecoconnections.com/pdfs/steeprock.pdf

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…

9 comments:

David said...

Thank you for the wonderful memory.

I never met Glen Harcourt, but I was great friends with Tim Hackett (one of the two others in the plane). I had visited Tim on New Year's just as he was beginning to hook up with Glen. He was very excited about the work.

Tim was an amazing force to be around -- someone who always seemed to make others feel safe and happy. Reading your words about Glen, I can see so many similarities between the two of them.

I know that their loss is tough but we must remember was a positive impact they made on this world. Their spirit lives on in our minds and deeds.

My friend Mike wrote a more fitting tribute to Tim than I could. You can find it at www.mikelane.blogspot.com

Best wishes to you. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I know Glen in high school. He was the class president 1984. My brother say his obit in the local paper, Utica OD. From what I have read on the internet Glen has left this world better than he found it. It appears Glen did not fall into the trap of burn as much energy as you can to have a easier life. He did just the opposite and found ways to conserve and live off the grid. I just hope that someday the US will figure it out.

Kurt Wiehenstroer, Utica NY

Ed said...

I started a small photo album of Glen at ...

http://public.fotki.com/shmooga/glen/

It's missing a lot and its mostly of family. It really needs some more photos of Weston, Glen and Isabel's son who was born on Glen's birthday, Dec 16, 2005.

Glen was good about e-mailing us all photos and I scoured some of my albums and scanned some. I'm waiting for more to come in from elsewhere.

Eddie

J Cuda said...

Knew Glen form the highschool days of hanging w his brother. Seems like a very tragic loss, and hopefully someone will carry on where Glen left off. Condolences to the whole Harcourt family.

J Cuda

GreenFire said...

Georges -

Thank you so much for this blog - Glen was my brother in spirit and because of our nomadic life I just found out this last week about his leaving this world. I feel like you are a brother as well after reading your blog and hearing about the effect Glen had on your life as well - Glen picked me and my partner, Micah, up hitchhiking outside of Montrose 9 years ago when SteepRock was just getting going - We lived at SteepRock one summer and worked/visited other summers when we came through Colorado. I could write a whole book about Glen's inspiration in my life - I actually did write a book that he helped inspire about our generation, as well as found a EcoMinistry that is based on Deep Ecology and Sustainability after bonding with Glen. My heart aches and I wish so much to connect with others like yourself who loved him as we did. We are making a trip to Colorado in about 3 weeks now so that I can build another altar in his name - We must carry on the work .

"It is only in my absence that the Spirit of contemplation will descend upon your soul" - Another Master's words.

Glen's last words to us before we left Colorado were: "Remember - Sale the sizzle and not the steak!"

Darlene & Micah Green
http://www.greenfireministry.org
http://www.treasurex.net

GreenFire said...

Georges -

Thank you so much for this blog - Glen was my brother in spirit and because of our nomadic life I just found out this last week about his leaving this world. I feel like you are a brother as well after reading your blog and hearing about the effect Glen had on your life as well - Glen picked me and my partner, Micah, up hitchhiking outside of Montrose 9 years ago when SteepRock was just getting going - We lived at SteepRock one summer and worked/visited other summers when we came through Colorado. I could write a whole book about Glen's inspiration in my life - I actually did write a book that he helped inspire about our generation, as well as found a EcoMinistry that is based on Deep Ecology and Sustainability after bonding with Glen. My heart aches and I wish so much to connect with others like yourself who loved him as we did. We are making a trip to Colorado in about 3 weeks now so that I can build another altar in his name - We must carry on the work .

"It is only in my absence that the Spirit of contemplation will descend upon your soul" - Another Master's words.

Glen's last words to us before we left Colorado were: "Remember - Sale the sizzle and not the steak!"

Darlene & Micah Green
http://www.greenfireministry.org
http://www.treasurex.net

Gary said...

The spirit Lives on.

Thanks for such a wonderful post after our loss of Glen, Tim and Bo

I write only now to add good news that Glen and his work does live on. Steeprock is thriving Thorne and Weston are growing like wildflowers and here on the Vineyard work has begun on a 2.5kW wind turbine in memory of Glen and to carry the torch so to speak.

Sydney said...

I just started thinking of Glen out of the blue today. I was mentioning him in an e-mail to a new friend who runs a Green building company in Santa Barbara, CA. I was telling him how I went back to Telluride right after college to do my Internship at the Peaks as a Fitness Professional and hated every minute of it. Glen offered me the chance of a lifetime as a fairly paid Carpenter's Apprentice and I loved every second of it. He was an amazing guy- you could just see his wheels turning at all times. He always had time for fun as long as the work was progressing. He was clearly a generous man- he had such optimism for my work even as he would grin and bear my botched efforts, some of my mistakes permanent. My California boyfriend came and begged me to return to Santa Barbara so I did not realizing what a gem Glen was to help me get my foot in the door in an industry dominated by men in California. I never did get the chance again which is why I will always remember him for his generosity,progressive ideas and expertise that was never given the time to be fully utilized. I never got to Thank Glen like I wanted to. I married the California boyfriend and we have two gorgeous babies.

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