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Karl Linn

Hello ACGA friends.   I thought I would forward the sad news below to the
listserve.   Thanks, Rick Bacigalupi
 Dear friends,

I am sad to send the news that Karl Linn passed away during the
night.  He was just shy of 82 years old.  His wife, Nicole
Milner, is at home at this time with family and friends. 
Another giant of a person has passed from our lives.

What follows is a piece based on one I wrote a few years ago,
nominating Karl for a local award.  He was gracious enough to
help me with it.  It reflects just a part of Karl's legacy.   I
know that many people will have words of their own about our
extraordinary friend,  and we will gather soon to share them.  A
memorial service will be planned later in the year. 
In sorrow, Linda

P.S. please share this news with those who you know were close
to Karl.

Karl Linn was a landscape architect, educator, and psychologist.
Although he was trained in and had careers in these fields, it
was what he did with his knowledge and talents that was truly
remarkable.  Karl was a man who lived his vision.  Before he
came to Berkeley he had made dramatic things happen in
communities throughout the United States.  He was known for
creating community where there was little evidence of it, in
places where there was little cause for hope.   Knowing the
allure of making gardens come alive, Karl organized people to
transform their neighborhoods, many in desperate need of
reclamation. In the process they created neighbors and beauty in
their community.  That work was much of life before he came to

Karl made many things happen.  He was a founder of the
organization Architects,  Designers, and Planners for Social
Responsibility (ADPSR).  As a result of his vision, a large
number of young professionals have organized within ADPSR, many
of whom live in Berkeley, to promote and realize seminal
environmental ventures, including green building practices and
the use of alternative materials in construction.  Karl's vision
was responsible for what is now a growing core of people who
started a Green Resource Center in Berkeley,
built the straw bale addition to the City's Nature Center at the
Marina, and created a "Green Map" guide to the large number of
environmental businesses in the City.  

As part of Earth Island Institute Karl created, along with David
Brower and Carl Anthony who is now at the Ford Foundation,  the
Urban Habitat Project intended to reach inner city communities
with the
Institute's environmental mission.

Over ten years ago Karl began set his sights on new community
gardens at Peralta and Northside Avenues.  Two pieces of
acreage, full of weeds and surrounded by chain link fencing, sat
idle near the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train tracks.  By
sheer dint of Karl's considerable will, and using as many
collaborations as he could possibly harness, Karl got BART to
agree to allow the community its land for gardens.  That was
just the beginning. Karl's dream was that the residents who
lived nearby, many
of whom were apartment dwellers, could be embraced into the new
gardens--and, indeed they were.  Karl began organizing
neighbors, person by person, extending his considerable warmth
to neighbor
after neighbor, inviting them to meetings, sculpting the
imagination and talents of the landscape architects, artists,
and builders who would realize shape the destiny of the land
they'd acquired.  Many found themselves, shovel in hand, digging
the outlines of garden plots, planning murals and stone art,
building ponds, erecting
fetishes, claiming and shaping what have become cherished
gardens full of surprises and treasures. 

The Peralta/Northside gardens are renown for their beauty,
tranquility, landscaping, and most important of all, organic
food production. Sculptures, murals, artistic gateways, a
plenitude of flowers and vegetables.  Karl arranged for
businesses to donate materials, newspapers featured events,
groups of neighbors spent many a weekend up to their knees in
mud to create a whimsical Cobb structure complete with a
wildflower roof.  The
gardens represent, today, a work of love always in progress.
Weddings happen there, peace gatherings, solstice celebrations.
Karl's drive, his tenacity, and his vision to merge culture and
nature inside of urban spaces made these gardens happen.  Karl
Linn was widely admired. On the occasion of his 80th birthday in
March 2003, Karl Linn was celebrated by the hundreds of friends,
admirers, gardeners and neighbors who gathered out of
appreciation and love of Karl and his work.

Karl's vision didn't stop at creating gardens.  He was seminal
in creating Berkeley EcoHouse, a nonprofit environmental
organization dedicated to hands-on learning and promotion of
healthful living and the practice of ecological living.  Karl's
leadership helped raise funds from the community to purchase the
house, install green materials and solar energy, and begin solar
and energy conservation programs in Berkeley schools.

Under Karl's leadership the house was completely solar powered
and has developed its organic and permaculture gardens.  One
would think that the gardens and the EcoHouse were enough, but
Karl's dreams were unbounded.  Karl was an historian and had a
keen respect knowing one's place.  As a result, the Ohlone
Greenway interpretive exhibit seemed to sprout under our very
eyes, a project of a dedicated group of local historians.  The
corridor of the Ohlone Greenway where BART comes out of the
tunnel toward points north has become an interpretive historic
walk of Westbrae's history. Sculpture, murals, art exhibits, and
plantings celebrate the historic legacy of that neighborhood
from the Ohlone Indians to the early settlers to modern times.
Karl organized the gardeners and
artists, native peoples, and acquired BART's active support.  By
this time, BART officials had become Karl Linn champions because
of what he had helped create out of not  much more than parcels
of weeds.
Karl Linn realized yet another of his dreams on the Ohlone
Greenway, dreams that have become legacies, gifts really, to the

Aside from the gardens, the interpretive greenway, ADPSR, and
EcoHouse, Karl was a seminal leader in the Palestinian/Israeli
Dialog group. These discussions were designed to model the kind
of dialog that the participants hoped could be achieved between
the two peoples who were experiencing so much violent and tragic
conflict.  Karl was raised in Germany amidst the beautiful and
abundant orchards his family kept.  That life was soon to be
wiped out by the Nazi advance. Karl fled Germany as a child and
the family resettled in Palestine.  His early experiences of
life on the land and the injustices he suffered and witnessed
both in Germany and in Palestine shaped his commitment to the
land and to social justice. Karl was dedicated and fearless in
his support social justice and for a peaceful resolution to the
deepening conflict in the Middle East.

Karl Linn was a man of action and a teacher.  He had an
unsurpassed commitment to building environmentally healthy and
beautiful communities, to realizing human potential in all of
its facets, and to achieving a just society.  For these goals he
remained extraordinarily steadfast and purposeful.  He will be
remembered as a man who left a deep and lasting mark both on the
land and its people.

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

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