Entries tagged with “Jonathan Rowe”.


Well over 100 people showed up Sunday at a memorial for Jonathan Rowe of Point Reyes Station, who co-founded the West Marin Commons project. Mr. Rowe died unexpectedly March 20 of a rare streptococcal sepsis infection at the age of 65. He leaves a wife, Mary Jean Espulgar-Rowe, and son, Joshua Espulgar-Rowe.

Jonathan Rowe could often be seen writing on an open-air table next to the coffee bar at Toby’s Feed Barn.

He had been a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly and YES! magazines and had been a staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor.

Mr. Rowe also contributed articles to Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, Readers Digest, The Columbia Journalism Review, The Point Reyes Light, The West Marin Citizen, and many other publications.

A 1967 graduate of Harvard University, Mr. Rowe also earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. In the early 1970s, he was one of Ralph Nader’s “Raiders.”

He served on staffs in the House of Representatives and the Senate, where he was a long-time aide to US Senator Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota). He also served on the staff of the Washington, DC, city council.

The memorial began in Toby’s Feed Barn where friends and community members paid tribute to the late journalist and economist. Elizabeth Barnet (left) and Gary Ruskin (right) acted as masters of ceremony. Barnet and Mr. Rowe co-founded West Marin Commons. Ruskin, who once shared an office with Mr. Rowe in Washington, spoke of the man’s major importance as an economist. He drew a round of applause when he suggested naming the new commons after Mr. Rowe. His son Joshua, a third grader at West Marin School, told about having Mr. Rowe  for a father.

Joshua also circulated through the Feed Barn, unobtrusively keeping his classmates orderly. When some youngsters sitting high on a stack of hay bales became a little noisy, the eight year old climbed up to them and whispered, “Guys, you gotta get off the hay bales.”

Providing music for the occasion, Joyce Kouffman playing a bass led the crowd in singing This Little Light of Mine.

Mr. Rowe’s younger brother Matt Rowe and Charlie Morgan (right) both talked about Mr. Rowe’s obsession with the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

Morgan noted that Mr. Rowe and he were both programmers at KWMR community radio, with Morgan’s show being aired immediately after Mr. Rowe’s.

By invitation, Mr. Rowe would often stick around the studio after his show and take part in Morgan’s show, expanding upon comments he had made in the preceding show.

Morgan said he was always impressed by Mr. Rowe’s ability to calmly discuss controversial issues.

Others who spoke included: journalist Todd Oppenheimer, who described swimming in San Francisco Bay with Mr. Rowe; Sylvia Oliver, who like Mr. Rowe had worked in US Senator Byron Dorgan’s office; Emily Levine, who described giving an economics talk based almost entirely on a cover story by Mr. Rowe in The Atlantic Monthly; writer Russ Baker, who described Mr. Rowe as “my intellectual partner”; Nancy Bertelsen, who read her own poem; and Michael Cohen, who said that 40 years ago he had been Mr. Rowe’s yoga teacher and considered him part of “the company of the wise.”

Joshua told the crowd his father accompanied him when he walked to school and liked to tell jokes. He himself joked that the reason he liked walking with his father was just to hear the jokes.

After school, they went swimming or bicycle riding or played sports, he added. Joshua drew a laugh from the crowd when he described his father as “a good soccer player for his age.” Joshua noted that his father had catered to his fascination with trucks, and “I still remember when I was little he used to write stories about trucks.”

At the new commons, Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey reported that county supervisors had adjourned in memory of Mr. Rowe to honor his community work.

After the tributes in Toby’s Feed Barn, the crowd walked two blocks to the new West Marin Commons at Highway 1 and Fourth Street to hear more speakers, see the dedication of a large bench in Mr. Rowe’s honor, and enjoy a potluck luncheon.

Creating the massive bench was Rufus Blunk of Inverness (at microphone). He is the husband of Elizabeth Barnet, who with Mr. Rowe co-founded the West Marin Commons project.

When the crowd arrived, the bench was wrapped in the tarpaulins piled at the left. Once the bench was unveiled, people sprinkled it with pine needles and flower petals.

At different times, speakers’ words brought tears to many people’s eyes, but the overwhelming sentiment was how fortunate West Marin had been to have had Mr. Rowe helping guide community affairs for 15 years.

Former West Marin resident John Francis returned to Point Reyes Station Saturday to give a talk in Toby’s Feed Barn on what a 17-year vow of silence taught him about listening.

For 22 years, John also refused to ride in motorized vehicles (largely as a reaction to a humongous oil spill at the Golden Gate).

During that time, John walked across the United States. Along the way, he earned a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and a doctorate in Land Resources — with a specialty in oil spills —from the University of Wisconsin.

John subsequently walked across the Amazon and down the west coast of South America to the tip of Argentina. He also walked around Antarctica a bit and north through Patagonia.

John, who now lives in Cape May, NJ, strums his banjo on all his treks — even while hiking from one Indian village to another in the jungles of the Amazon.

Not surprisingly, he starts all his talks with banjo music.

Traveling one step at a time gave John the opportunity to observe the environment of plants and animals, as well as humans.

The insight he gained led him to create in 1982 an educational nonprofit called Planetwalk. His adventures have also resulted in a book titled Planetwalker, which was published by The National Geographic in 2008. Sales of the book during Friday’s talk benefited the Planetwalk organization.

Beside B Street downhill from Café Reyes in Point Reyes Station

Last week’s posting on West Marin history noted that this wooden structure mostly hidden by foliage was once the base for a water tower.

Photo by M. B. Boissevain courtesy of the Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History.

On Monday, historian Dewey Livingston of Inverness sent over this photo from 1930 so you can get an idea of what the water tower once looked like. In the foreground are 4-H Achievement Day participants.

A barn dance in Toby’s Feed Barn March 2 helped raise funds for a commons in Point Reyes Station, as well as the Latino Photography Project. The commons project had been championed by Jonathan Rowe, who died unexpectedly March 20 at the age of 65.

During a break in the dancing, Mr. Rowe’s son Joshua Espulgar-Rowe read a statement about his father, describing his life and thanking those who showed up for the event.

It would be a difficult for anybody to publicly read a memorial to a parent yet Joshua carried himself as a man despite being only eight years old.

Joshua’s mother Mary Jean Espulgar-Rowe, who was born in the Philippines, was not on hand. Elizabeth Barnet, who co-founded the commons project with Mr. Rowe, has been acting as the family’s liaison to the community and sat nearby while Joshua spoke.

Contributions to support Jonathan’s family or help pay for Joshua’s college education (please note which) can be sent to a newly established account, 5561290361, at Wells Fargo Bank, 11400 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station CA 94956. Make checks payable to Mary Jean Espulgar-Rowe. Tax-deductible contributions in memory of Jonathan may be sent to West Marin Commons/Town Commons Project. The address is the West Marin Fund, Box 127, Point Reyes Station CA 94956.

A memorial for Mr. Rowe is planned for 11 a.m. Sunday, May 22, at the Town Commons in Point Reyes Station. A parallel memorial, organized by Jonathan’s friends at On the Commons, will take place in Minneapolis on the same day.