Jonathan Rowe, 1946-2011

In memory of a longtime YES! Magazine contributor.
Jonathan Rowe, 1946-2011

Jonathan Rowe, 1946-2011

Photo courtesy of Tomales Bay Institute.

It is always a shock when a dear friend who is vibrant and healthy dies suddenly. Jonathan Rowe went to the gym last Saturday morning, as he did daily. When he came home he laid down with a headache and fever. By the next morning, he was gone. The diagnosis was streptococcal sepsis, a rare bacterial infection that is often fatal.

Readers of YES! and many other magazines will remember Jonathan as a lucid writer about economics, the commons, and other subjects. His writing, like his mind, was deeply thoughtful and caring. He made his graceful paragraphs seem effortless, though of course they were far from that. No one worked harder to make words shine than Jonathan.

And Jonathan did more than write about the world. In his quiet and gentle way, he also worked hard to change it. After graduating law school in 1971, he moved to Washington and became one of Ralph Nader’s first "raiders." He subsequently worked for the populist Senator Byron Dorgan, and for a string of progressive nonprofits. To all of these efforts he brought his integrity, humor, disdain for "experts," and appreciation for simple virtues, unsung heroes, friendship, and community life.

In 2001 he moved with his wife Mary Jean to the coastal California village of Point Reyes Station. Here, in his late 50s and early 60s, he became a father and active member of a vibrant community. He walked his son Josh to school every day, coached Little League baseball, helped the local newspapers and radio station, made countless friends, and was probably happier than at any other time in his life.

Contributions to support Jonathan’s family can be sent to Wells Fargo Bank, 11400 State Route 1, Point Reyes Station CA 94956 (make check payable to Mary Jean Espulgar-Rowe). Tax-deductible contributions in memory of Jonathan may be sent to West Marin Commons/Town Commons Project, PO Box 127, Point Reyes Station CA 94956.


Articles by Jonathan Rowe:

With presidents constrained by forces we can’t even see, the story of presidential achievement is in large measure the story of the movements that make action possible.

Byron Dorgan was a champion of workers and farmers and an early opponent of deregulating the banking industry.

GDP and productivity don't measure what's really going on in the economy—or in people's lives. Jonathan Rowe on measuring what matters.

In a world where everything's for sale, we've forgotten that much of value happens outside the stream of commerce. Here's how we forgot—and how we're reclaiming the commons.

What is the commons, and how is it valued?

Debunking the myth that the Bush Administration is "conservative."

Jonathan Rowe reviews Jim Hightower's new book.

Few images loom larger in the American psyche than that of the Wild West. In contrast to the myth, it was the cooperators who really made the West.