Remembering a Memorable Environmental Activist
By Gar Smith / Friends of the Earth; Editor Emeritus, Earth Island Journal
The message from Ponderosa Pine’s “Double Helix Office in the Global South White House” was not unexpected but it still hit with the force of a majestic redwood falling in the forest.
I had heard of Keith Lampe (aka Ponderosa Pine, aka Ro-Non-So-Te, aka Transition President of the Government of the USA in Exile) long before I had the pleasure of getting to know him as a friend and a colleague.
It was in 1969, as a staffer at the Berkeley Barb, that I first began reading Keith’s unique self-syndicated fortnightly column, Earth Read-Out. It was the first “environmental column” to appear in the so-called Underground Press (or anywhere else, for that matter).
I eventually encountered Keith as few years later—appropriately enough, during an All Species Day Parade in San Francisco.
Spotting a fellow who stood out from the rest of the crowd, I was moved to ask: “Might you be Ponderosa Pine?” It was an easy guess on my part. The fellow I was talking to seemed to be the only marcher who was barefoot. He was certainly the only one dressed in an outfit fashioned entirely from tree bark. With a beaming smile and mischievous eyes peeking out between strips of tree-gleanings, he looked like a walking elm, both deciduous and impish.
Keith Lampe had a one-of-a-kind career arc—from reporter to soldier to activist to media mentor to social critic, philosopher, eco-guru, musical pioneer and much more. ….
He’d been sending me bulletins since the early 90’s, but I had no idea he was already so old. His energy was contagious. He will be missed.