Thursday, September 9, 2010

J. Russell Smith: "Unsystematic"

In an obituary for and tribute to J. Russell Smith published in the March 1967 issue of The Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Otis P. Starkey says of Smith:

"His work habits were somewhat unsystematic and, disdainful of red tape and overlogical approaches, he turned out a huge volume of manuscript with the help of family and staff bound to him by mutual loyalty and affection rather than by executive direction."

I aspire to have 1/1,000th the impact he had, mostly by helping him, long after his death, achieve 1/1,000th of the impact he should have had while he was alive. By being a disciple.

I think it's safe to say that the description of "unsystematic," "disdainful of red tape," and "turned out a huge volume of manuscript" applies to me. I can only hope that I engender and am worthy of the same mutual loyalty and affection of the family and friends on whom I rely so heavily for support and help.

I love this, also from Starkey's obit: "His lively spirit was shown when he remarked in 1963 that he did not mind having to die but wished he could return to the New York Public Libary once a week after his death to find out how things were working out."

I think that if Smith is making those weekly visits he is probably disheartened by the small number of adherents to his plan of a Permanent Agriculture, preserving soil by producing food with woody perennials instead of annual grains. But hopefully his spirit is cheered by the dedication of those modern adherents (you and me), and by the fact that the time is right for his ideas to take hold on a large scale.

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