It’s been a year since my dear friend Jonathan Rowe suddenly passed away, leaving a huge hole in many people’s lives and cutting short Jon’s richly imaginative explorations of the commons. I can’t remember how many times I’ve reached for the phone to call him since last March 20. Jon’s writings were both penetrating and poetic; a conversation with him was an excursion into many seldom-visited emotional and intellectual corners. In these days of degraded political thought, it was so refreshing to encounter a gentle voice who was sophisticated and engaged yet also committed to imagining the practical paths to a better world.
Therein lies Jon’s achievement. He was not afraid to approach the full human mystery of the commons with a sensitivity and depth; he felt no compulsion to follow the cant and realpolitik of so many of his peers. Yet neither was he a sentimentalist or mystic. As an early activist with Nader’s Raider and a former Senate aide, Jon appreciated the fierce realities of political life and the importance of law. The question was, How can these things be aligned with the more abiding spiritual and social complexities of the human condition?