Tom and I

We met in 1971 on a blind date in Minneapolis, went back to my place together that night, and were together for 44 years.

He was 30 and teaching at architecture at the University of Minnesota. I was 22, fresh out of Bennington College in Vermont and working as Assistant Director for the Community Design Center of Minnesota.

For most of those 44 years we had a productive and fulfilling partnership. We birthed two sons, now in their 40’s and have two grandchildren. We finally got married after 23 years together in 1995 – the year I left teaching at Fire Mountain and my artistic side was taking off. It just seemed sorta time. ;-)

But at some point, impossible to pinpoint, things began to unravel between us and in 2015, I realized that our paths had diverged and I left the marriage, moving off Neahkahnie Mountain to a tiny place in Nehalem.

Tom is now an Ancestor.

He marched forth intentionally just before the pandemic on March 4, 2020, using Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” protocol with his two sons by his side when his metastasized bone cancer was no longer bearable.

Back Story

Tom was a visionary – an early pioneer on sustainability and other issues. See for the full range of his thinking as well as his beautiful architectural work. I have always been immersed in community-building, my life’s calling. Our focuses meshed very well. Once Tom got tenured, we moved to Oregon in 1974, the year of the first oil crisis.

Tom worked with the think tank that was Governor Tom McCall’s Energy and Research and Planning office. I was a groupie there until we moved to NW Portland to help produce what became a nationally influential “Rain Magazine: Journal of Appropriate Technology,” a bunch of us living in a house together.

Diane Schatz drawing of our visions for community sustainability circa 1974

We also did consulting work to pay the bills, including traveling to Sacramento to be part of setting up the Office of Appropriate Technology in the Jerry Brown Administration. During that period we edited “Rainbook” (a compilation from the magazine) and a book of essays called “Stepping Stones,” both published by Schocken Books. We were also the idea people behind Diane Schatz’s drawings of the world we were all working to create.

But making things real in a small town was calling.

And so was Neahkahnie Mountain at the coast. We bought our land on the Mountain in 1976 and began to build our house ourselves with the help of my brother in Summer, 1977. It burned down in February1978. We tore down the hulk and started it again in May of that year, having wrestled with the question of whether the fire was a warning or a test – we decided it was a test. I was pregnant with our first son during the re-building.  

A house fire is an effective way to become known locally. Not a method I'd recommend, but Tom and I quickly became immersed in this small coastal three-village community. Over the years we were part of the group of parents who organized Fire Mountain School. He designed the building – built by all the parents - that is still in use today. He and I were founding board members of Lower Nehalem Community Trust (conservancy land trust), Fulcrum Community Resources (sustainability support), and NeahCasa (an affordable housing trust).

In 2005, thanks to an inheritance, we purchased 10 acres  in Nehalem in hopes of developing part of it as affordable workforce housing and/or co-sorta-housing. That project has continued to be stymied by zoning issues but the community garden we created continues to thrive.

Tom was the one who introduced me to the metaphysical (though I'd always believed in fairies) – first to Feng Shui which he had a National Endowment for the Arts grant to study in the early 70’s. Our explorations were an exciting, mutually-supportive journey over the course of the next many years. We were part of various local spirit-oriented groups and ceremonial happenings. We started weekly Ecstatic Dance events that continue to this day now called Neahkahnie Spirit Dance Community. We often had speaking engagements about our work and traveled together on pilgrimages to sacred sites around the world. We even took part in a year-long Sky Dancing Tantra training adventure.

The paintings give some hints about our journey together.