Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Short Month Gone By

Sad news this day. I learned on Sunday that my friend, Andy Bortz had passed away a week earlier. Not sure if many of you know him. Details on his memorial service are and a piece written by a fella activist about Andy are below.

To Friends of Andy Bortz;

For those of you who haven't heard, Andy died on Monday February 19th of a heart attack.

There will be a memorial service for Andy on Sunday March 11th at 2pm. It will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Corvallis and there will be a reception following.

Many of you know Andy through your own circles, be it through his activism on behalf of the environment, his anti-war activity, his voice in the Corvallis Peace Choir, his communities in Corvallis, Summit, Portland and Brookings, his solar work as the "Solarman", or just by meeting him while walking his dog in the park. He was a great friend to us all, gentle in spirit doing what he believed in till the end.

Hopefully, many of you can make it to the service in support of his family and friends. There will be an opportunity for you to share what Andy meant to you in your life. For those of you who can't make it, or are a little shy about such things. Please reply by email to us your thoughts about Andy. Please make it a short statement or maybe just one word that describes the meaning of your relationship with Andy. We will make your thoughts known during Andy's service.

If you would like to contribute food for the reception, please me know by reply to this post, I'll pass the info along to the organizers so that they can plan. Please forward this email or spread the word about Andy and his memorial service to anyone who would like to know. Andy had many friends in many circles....

Thanks! -Marvin and Margaret

EWllen O'Shea writes:

I just got the news. Andy Bortz died last week. Andy was a peace warrior. He was our community Solar guy. I am still in shock from learning that he died. I sat down and wrote this about Andy's life. I posted it to Portland Indymedia because I think it
is important to educate those coming behind us about the history of resistance. Andy was all about persistence. He loved peace. He wanted community.

Here is what I wrote:
Ode to Andy Bortz Forest Activist extraordinaire
The Solar Guy passes on
1947 - 2007

"Way back in the 1970s, a few nature-oriented philosophers came up with a visionary framework for viewing the world. They called it deep ecology, or biocentrism. The premise is pretty simple: Humans are not the end all, be all of evolution, but merely a strand in the web of life, with no inherent right to wreck everything and spoil the grand evolutionary pageant for everyone else. Deep ecology says that all living beings and life-giving systems are equal and have an intrinsic value, beyond what value humans may ascribe. In other words, all life and life-giving systems have
inherent worth and a right to exist for their own sake, regardless of what kind of money people think they can make off them." - John Johnson, EF! Journal, Samhain/Yule 2005 (25th Anniversary Edition) p. 43 - Do We Know Where Our Deep Ecology Is?

Andy was a friend of mine and he died suddenly in Corvallis about a week ago. Andy was a friend to many, and especially Andy Bortz was a friend to the Earth. In Corvallis, he was known as the Solar Guy. Andy was into solar when the technology was just in its infancy. He loved the old solar panels and the "Copper Cricket" one of the first solar water heaters. He knew the top of many mid-Willamette valley roofs. Installing, solar tubes, solar water heaters, solar panels. He helped to start several organizations that supported solar and alternative energy. His back yard is a museum to the evolution of solar technology in the last 35 years.

Andy believed in the "Commons" and loved to participate in community events like the Corvallis Peace Choir and Earth Day celebrations. He taught us all to believe and persist even when progress seemed forever blocked. Andy was a patient teacher. He loved to see the light go on when someone finally understood why we needed to protect and defend the earth.

Andy was also an amazing pioneer in forest activism. Andrew Bortz was one of the founding members of the Cathedral Forest Action Group (CFAG). They were the first forest activist groups to plan organized tree sits in the Middle Santiam. Due to these actions to stop massive clearcutting, we have a few good stands of old growth left. We have water, we have some air and we have wildlife left because of people like Andy Bortz.

In the early 1980s, the Corvallis, Oregon-based Cathedral Forest Action Group (CFAG) began to apply nonviolent, civil-disobedience tactics to protect the Willamette National Forest~Rs ancient Douglas-fir stands from the devastating clear cuttery of the Reagan Administration.

The group's tactics included debates, public forums, logging-road
blockades and setting up a "witness camp," whose visitors were taken to observe ancient forest ecosystems and freshly killed tree remains. CFAG~Rs blockades attempted to halt further road building into the Santiam forest in western Oregon, as well as to stop loggers from entering the Santiam via the already-existing spaghetti of taxpayer-funded roads. Most of CFAG's actions were well-orchestrated, peaceful sit-ins across logging roads, carried out in the hope of bringing the destruction of those forests into public view. One memorable blockade featured CFAG organizer Brian Heath holding a solitary sit-in atop a crate of explosives that was about to be used to blast a roadway through a ridge! But getting busted and banned from the forest for a year after spending no more than an hour "defending" it was not very cost-effective.

Were it not for the treespiking occurring with random precision, courtesy of the Bonnie Abbzug Feminist Garden Club, the pace of clearcutting within the Santiam region would have scarcely been slowed at all. This spawned an activists' brainstorming session around a campfire one smoky night. It was here that the treesit was born, a tactic that now occupies an important place in the toolbox of Earth activism.

Here is a large portion of the Cathedral Forest Wilderness Declaration: (The Cathedral Forest Action Group was formed in 1984 to take a stand in protecting 80,000 acres of forest wilderness in central Oregon's Cascade mountains...) "We believe that all things are connected, that whatever we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. If we destroy our remaining wild places, we will ultimately destroy our identity with the Earth: wilderness has values for humankind which no scientist can synthesize, no economist can price, and no technological distraction can replace.

"We believe that we should protect in perpetuity these wild places, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of the plants and animals for the good of the sustaining Earth. The forests, like us, are living things: wilderness should exist intact solely for its own sake; no human justification, rationale, or excuse is needed.

"We perceive the Earth is dying. We pledge ourselves to turning this process around, to stopping the destruction, so that the Earth can become alive, clean, and healthy once again." (from page 196 of Deep Ecology) Andy's pledge was lived out each day of his life. He was the teacher of several generations of forest activists. Arrested several times, he was sued by the wealthy and almost lost his livelyhood. He was part of a land mark suit to allow peaceful non-violent activism to continue to occur in our beautiful forest.

May the forest bless you and cover you with boughs..
may the mountain winds heave you up to the heavens

You lived a good life
a life worth living
dream deep my brother
it is not over

No comments: