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A Great Mind Passing
The Legacy of Jerry Mander
Portrait of a Planetarian
By James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan - EON
After decades as an intellectual and moral force both at home and abroad, author-activist Jerry Mander ended a prolific and impactful life Tuesday, April 11, 2023 in Hawaii. His funeral was held Sunday, April 16th on the Big Island.
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He is survived by his wife and partner of 27 years, journalist and filmmaker, Koohan Paik-Mander; sons Yari and Kai Mander, (whom he parented with his first wife, celebrated feminist author and New College of California Professor Anica Vesel Mander) ; grandchildren Sadie, Ezra and Eli; his second wife and enduring friend Elizabeth Garsonnin; and his sister, Anita Rosenstock.
Though doctors gave him six months to live in late 2020, Mander lived long enough to see the 2022 publication of his 11th book, 70 Ads to Save the World - An Illustrated Memoir of Social Change (Synergetic Press, 2022). The book gives a fascinating overview of the sweeping arc of his Zelig-like life, told via a collection of full-page ads he wrote that made history in progressive politics.
A book launch was held Nov 23, 2022 at the famous City Lights Book Store in San Francisco.
The link to buy book is here: https://synergeticpress.com/catalog/70-ads-to-save-the-world-an-illustrated-memoir-of-social-change/
Following a successful 15-year career in advertising with the prominent San Francisco PR firm Freeman, Mander & Gossage - during which time he worked closely with David Brower and the Sierra Club - Mander founded Public Media Center, the first advertising firm for social and environmental issues. He then founded IFG, the International Forum on Globalization in 1996, and served as its director for over a decade. He also functioned as the program director at Doug Tompkins’ Foundation for Deep Ecology.
He tells the story of his evolution from for-profit work to non-profit work in our exclusive 2022 video of his conversation with late EON Board Member, celebrated Washington, DC attorney James Turner.
Under Mander’s directorship, IFG brought together a stellar array of key international activists in a series of conferences and teach-ins in various venues around the country and the world. We were honored that Jerry invited us to document many of these events on video, as well as to present on our issues.
In 1999, IFG played a major role in organizing what came to be known as the “Battle of Seattle,” an historic, effective mass resistance to the transnational corporatist agenda.
In 2009, in the lead-up to the Copenhagen Climate Summit Jerry and 9 other activists and authors traced the history of the climate justice movement from the reactive 'no!' of the Battle of Seattle to the proactive, solution-oriented “yes” of the Copenhagen convergence, in our video, SEATTLE to COPENHAGEN: Building a Movement of Movements.
In 2004, IFG published ALTERNATIVES to ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION - A Better World is Possible, co-edited by Mander and John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies. The list of contributors to this visionary volume included the following members of the International Forum on Globalization:
Maude Barlow - Founder, Council of Canadians
Walden Bello - Founder, Focus on the Global South
Debbie Barker - IFG
Edward Goldsmith - Founder, Ecology Magazine
Robin Broad - Institute for Policy Studies
Randy Hayes - Co-Founder - Rainforest Action Network
Antonia Juhasz - Human Rights Watch
Andy Kimbrell - Founder - International Center for Technology Assessment
David Korten - Former professor at the Harvard Business School
Victor Menotti -IFG
Helena Norberg-Hodge - Founder - International Society for Ecology and Culture
Vandana Shiva - Founder - Navdanya International
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz - United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Lori Wallach - Founder - Global Trade Watch, a division of Public Citizen
A Productive Partnership
As a collaborative couple ourselves, we really appreciated our friendship with Jerry and Koohan, enjoying many dinners (Jerry loved to cook) and project adventures together. We’re full of admiration for their many joint accomplishments.
During their 27 years together, Jerry and Koohan collaborated on a number of significant projects. In 2008, they published their book, The Superferry Chronicles: Hawaii's Uprising Against Militarism, Commercialism, and the Desecration of the Earth.
Their book tells
…a story of personal and political empowerment- thousands of Hawaii's people from all parts of the community taking part in an unprecedented showdown against the latest expression of a centuries-old corporate-tourist-military intrusion into the Hawaiian way of life, landscape, and local sovereignty. This is a grim tale worthy of any colonized banana republic, with just as much double-dealing and intrigue. It is also a story of hope, and love for the land, the sea, and righteousness.
In 2011 and 2013, they were involved in IFG’s co-sponsorship with the Hawaii-based organization of Pua Mohala with the Moana Nui Teach-Ins in Honolulu and Berkeley, respectively. Moana Nui means “Big Ocean,” and the events were aimed to catalyze informed pan-Pacific solidarity and
“launched a resistance to what became known as the “Pacific Pivot,”, an Asia-Pacific rebalance of military resources from the Middle-East to the Asia-Pacific as a response to the growing economic influence of China and what was then, the rise of the BRICS economies.”
In 2012, Obama’s ‘Pacific Pivot’
, was provoking a renewed upsurge in resistance to U.S. militarism among indigenous Asia-Pacific communities. Idyllic Jeju island, off the southern coast of Koohan’s ancestral land, Korea, became a major epicenter of that resistance. As she explained in an article for Earth Island Journal,
Residents of the Jeju village of Gangjeong are putting their bodies in the way of the construction of a giant new Korea-US naval base. If completed, the base will house up to 8,000 marines and 20 warships, including nuclear submarines, giant aircraft carriers, and destroyers equipped with cruise missiles. The base is being constructed alongside a protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, in an area with spectacular coral reefs and numerous endangered ocean and wetlands species. It’s also smack-dab on top of a 4,000-year-old community of farmers and fisherfolk.
On the basis of Koohan’s experiences there, Jerry joined her as co-author of an article in the December 14, 2012 issue of the Nation, On the Front Lines of a New Pacific War. In it, they explained how
The US military’s aggressive Asia-Pacific strategy is escalating tensions with China and prompting local resistance throughout the region.
Referring back to their work with the Moana Nui events, they concluded,
The question, finally, is this: At a time of economic and ecological crisis, do Americans really want to ramp up costly and dangerous Cold War programs in hundreds of places, thousands of miles away, nearly always against the popular will of those who live there and with awful environmental effects? If not, then now’s the time for wide debate on the Pacific Pivot and all its ramifications.
Confronting The Techno-Utopian Threat
On October 20, 2014, Jerry and Koohan were also both deeply involved in IFG’s co-sponsorship of the Techno-Utopianism & the Fate of the Earth Teach-In, which
brought together 45+ leading scholars, authors, and activists at The Great Hall of The Cooper Union, New York City, for a public ‘Teach-In” on the profound impacts— environmental, economic and social—of runaway technological expansionism, and cyber immersion; the tendency to see technology as the savior for all problems. A change of direction is still required, returning the fate of nature to the center of economic and social decision making.
The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) has preserved the entire valuable video record of that historic event at the above link. EON contributed video of portions of the important event as well.
A Lifetime of Engagement in Key Events of His Time
We were honored to count Jerry as a friend for many years. He will be deeply missed by us and by many around the world who know the value of his legacy.
A characteristic example of his perspective is this Oct 26, 2009 350 Day talk in Pt. Reyes, CA, in which he points out six main flaws in the current economic paradigm of infinite growth on a finite planet - a message even more urgent today.
On May 1, 2022, Jerry Mander celebrated his 86th birthday and renewed vows with his wife and companion of 27 years, Koohan Paik-Mander. Friends and family gathered in a garden in Bolinas, California to share food and hear Debbie Barker read messages of love from around the world. It’s appropriate to close this memorial post with this EON video, edited by Koohan Paik-Mander. The beautifully crafted biography of her late husband and his times she wrote for his publisher, Synergetic Press, is here.
Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle Co-Direct EON, the Ecological Options Network.. The EON feature documentary S.O.S. - The San Onofre Syndrome - Nuclear Power’s Legacy will be released later this year.
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