Poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder returned to his alma mater Reed College for the school’s centennial. He was profiled recently by Jeff Baker of The Oregonian newspaper for oregonlive.com. Snyder was one of my poet-heroes when I started out on the writing trail. He’s 81 years old and still traveling and talking about writing, living in balance with the Earth, and much more. Snyder is the life-model for the character Japhy Ryder in Jack Kerouac’s 1958 novel “The Dharma Bums,” which popularized the study of Zen Buddhism and a back-to-the-land mindset that flowered in the 1960s.
He’s someone we should try to host in Lowell while he is still accepting invitations to travel. I think he would appreciate the sustainable city ethic taking hold in Lowell and which is exemplified on a macro scale by the 40-year process of recycling the city as a whole through preservation of buildings, adaptive reuse of structures, restoration of environmental health to the rivers, improvement of green spaces and tree stock, and our multi-faceted cultural revival.