Richard Douthwaite (1942-2011), co-founder of Feasta and much-loved colleague and friend, died on November 14th 2011 after a long illness. We will miss his unique and far-ranging intellect, the clarity of his thought and writing, his warmth and his laughter. Tributes to him have come in from around the world and you can read them below.
In line with Richard’s wishes we are continuing with our scheduled events and publishing of articles.
Many people have expressed appreciation for Richard’s books. You can read Short Circuit and The Ecology of Money for free on this website. The Growth Illusion is available from Green Books.
Feasta’s 2010 publication Fleeing Vesuvius: Overcoming the Risks of Economic and Environmental Collapse, was co-edited by Richard and includes a chapter by him. Many of Feasta’s other books were also co-edited by Richard. As Brian Davey mentions in his tribute below, Feasta’s climate group published a book in 2012 called Sharing for Survival: Restoring the climate, the commons and society, which includes a chapter by Richard.
Morag Friel writes (Nov 21):
On Saturday we said goodbye to Richard at a lovely service at Mt. Jerome Crematorium in Dublin. Led by long-time family friend Dara Molloy, Richard’s family members, friends, Feasta – and other – colleagues paid tribute to a man as well-regarded for his gentle, kind and optimistic nature as for his brilliance in the field of alternative economics and ecology. Of particular poignancy were the tributes by his grandchildren who spoke articulately and emotionally about his storytelling, poem reciting, toy sword making and all-round supergrandfatherliness. Young Cian, who lives in the Philippines, sent a message via his dad announcing his intention of taking over Feasta when he is old enough. Conn, who was too small to be seen over the top of the lectern, stood up at the front of the room and, with tears choking his words, spoke about his granddad and how much he meant to him. That was the moment when I lost the plot and let my own tears flow. I saw a few others around me in the same state.
Afterwards a large group of us retired to the Central Hotel and together, over the course of the afternoon, through stories and personal tributes, we assembled many pieces of the jigsaw of Richard’s life: husband, father, grandfather, friend, brother, woodworker, boat and house builder, tree planter, business owner, economist, journalist, writer, editor, public speaker, teacher and mentor to many….. He was a man of too many experiences to be captured by my inadequate abilities so I’ll just have to finish by quoting the Irish saying, genuinely deserved in Richard’s case (and hopefully spelt correctly!): Ní bhfeicimid a leithéid ann arís….. We truly won’t see his like again. And I will miss him more than I can even attempt to express.
Huffington Post tribute by Mike Sandler
Below you can read tributes to Richard. Please scroll down to the end to see them all, as some are posted as comments.
If you would like to add a short message about Richard, please add it to the comments section at the end of this page. Please email longer messages to email@example.com.
[This] is such sad news about a friend who was one of the most courageous and innovative thinkers I knew. Richard and I went on a trip to Montreal in the early nineties to fight the battle for emissions reductions against the establishment, and from that time onwards he remembered me and always gave me his time on many subjects, like what to do in India to manage the expected rise in energy prices due to peak oil, and the need to switch from debt-based currency to normal money to facilitate more local trade and more local economic autonomy.
Some years ago I wrote the India report on the likely impact of cap and share based on his overall strategic insights and his report for Ireland, and more recently he explained that the reason for high debt in Europe was the loss of export markets in oil producing countries, and we discussed whether exports in Annex 1 countries would ever really come back. He thought they could if those countries exported renewable energy systems, and I thought there was no time for such reforms and agriculture and forests were likely to have to be the dominant economic sector from now on. When he and his wife Mary and their son and his family came to visit India and stopped by for some days, we had many interesting dinner time conversations, but after the meals Richard always refused a drink, his son saying he would end up reciting poetry; and so instead we talked all evening long about the emission based currency unit and energy prices. I will miss talking to him a lot, and sending him my ideas for him to tell me whether they basically hung together. He usually said they did but of course why would they not seeing as I put it all together after listening to him carefully.
He will live on in his children and grandchildren, in his wife Mary’s memory, in the memories of his many friends, and his ideas will live on in FEASTA, the Irish think tank on sustainability, which he co-founded, and in his books, and in the work of the many people he influenced.
What a news, I saw him the other day on google chat! Very sad to hear this, though I haven’t meet him in person. My thoughts are with his family.
Ms. Dongying Wang (王冬莹）
Energy & Climate Change Program Coordinator
Global Environmental Institute
He was a very good man in every sense and we are all the poorer without him.
In the last few months and weeks of his life Richard kept working. One of these projects was the jointly authored book for which he has written a chapter and which I am editing. A few days ago he was keen that the very last thing that he had struggled to write go on the Feasta blog, partly as a way of publicising the book. He died the same day that I sent the book off to a publisher.
Richard’s chapter is titled:
“Time for some optimism about the climate crisis”
Speaking for myself I am not terribly optimistic but there is no doubt that his optimism carried things and people along, including me.
You cannot hope to follow or notice all the trends in our current ecological, economic and social crises as an individual – so you do it as part of a network. Unlike many more conventional economists, Richard respected and valued the opinion of non-economists who knew their stuff and whose expertise and knowledge helped him (and through him, us) build up his picture of the world. He knew, perhaps because he was also a journalist, that he needed to build up a network for himself and partly out of that Feasta was created – but his contacts and interests were also world wide. I was immensely privileged for him to include me in that network.
I didn’t always agree with all the details of his picture of the world but I was always aware that what he thought, and the information that he pulled together, had to be taken as a key reference point, an important orientation not just for myself, but for many people. It would be a terrible thing to reduce a description of someone to them being a “resource” – but he was an economist after all and there is no denying that he was a tremendous resource for all that. That said, this was not a resource sold to the highest bidder on the knowledge market – he was generous with what he knew and his knowledge was made available for all of us – because the world is going into crisis and Richard wanted to keep working to the very last to make sure that we are well prepared for what is ahead.
So I am sure that the abiding memory of many people will be of someone working extremely hard, and who was, therefore, incredibly well informed about issues not normally within the province of economics – noticing important trends in new thinking and drawing out their significance. When I switched on my computer in the morning his was already on and there would often be a message there sent from earlier. His computer skype connection would still be on when I went to bed at night.
That must be how he had such a comprehensive grasp of the latest in climate science, including the agricultural and land issues, the trends in energy depletion and other issues outside economics as such – as well as the more economic focused issues like monetary theory, the banking and eurozone crisis, complementary currencies, strategies for local economy and so much more. To follow these issues as they evolved was genuinely his enthusiasm – which you could tell because, when he gave a lecture, there would be those moments when he expressed himself about some point – let’s say about money circulation – and there would be these little outbursts of almost boyish excitement at the intricacies of the topic at hand.
The day before he died we had a conversation on the phone – he was too weak to type, but he was thinking that maybe he could continue writing by getting a dictation recorder that could send audio files.
It sometimes seems a cliche when people say that they will miss someone who has died – but with Richard you know how true it can be.
I can’t remember when I first met Richard. Living in Ireland and being involved in sustainability meant that Richard was somehow always there, whichever event you went to, Richard was invariably there, his commitment to these things was amazing. He was always so helpful and supportive of the young, emergent initiatives I was involved with, and always had time to chat on the phone, to clarify or to very gently help me to completely rearrange some half-baked ‘eureka’ moment I had had that turned out to be nothing of the sort. He had the gift, as a writer, to be able to unpack complex issues and make them understandable, reading ‘Short Circuit’ was a revelation for me. He was also not content for the ideas he promoted to be academic exercises, but he pioneered and supported a number of experimental local currencies and other models. I always found him kind, thoughtful and incisive. We have lost one of our keenest minds, and someone who was able to illuminate complex issues at a time when we most need him. He’ll be much missed.
Rob Hopkins, Transition Network
I’m very sorry to hear this, because it is a loss to so many of us who benefited from Richard’s brilliant work. He understood better than almost anyone else what is wrong with our current economic system and how we might transition to a sustainable economy that supports all of us. We at Post Carbon Institute appreciated so much his contribution to our POST CARBON READER, and his sage counsel on economic issues.
Just wanted to pass on my condolences to Richard’s family and friends. I met Richard only once at a most enjoyable conference on ‘De-growth’ in Barcelona but we have been in correspondence on monetary reform for many years.
His writings on money were a great inspiration to me and nef more generally, in particular ‘Short Circuit’ and ‘Ecology of Money’ which I have lent on extensively in my work here at nef, academic work and voluntary work founding the Brixton Pound in my neighbourhood in London. nef’s ongoing work on monetary reform can be followed here: http://neweconomics.org/projects/monetary-reform
The number of thinkers who grasped the idea that a fractional reserve banking system with interest-bearing debt posed an existential threat to a planet with finite resources and communicated it effectively can be counted on the fingers of one hand – I would include James Robertson and Hermann Daly as others – and Richard was one of them.
Richard’s intellectual rigour was combined with a great passion to get things moving on the ground, as is clear in his work with FEASTA and complementary currencies. I think he realised from an early stage that it was no use leaving it to governments or policy makers to get to grips with the problem.
His loss is a great one to the monetary reform movement – but his work and ideas will live on.
Richard Douthwaite was for me an inspiration, a teacher, and warm friend. He will live on in our lives, through the ideas he left us to develop and implement and by his example of dedicated work. Thanks for a great life which we were all privileged to be blessed by.
I am very much saddened by Richard’s passing and my thoughts go out immediately to Mary and his family. I’ve stayed at their house in Cloona and they’ve stayed in mine, when passing through Dublin. We worked particularly closely together when he was writing ‘Short Circuit’, for which the cover was done by my friend Mary Guinan of Temple of Design.
Richard was central to the project undertaken by the late Freda Rountree, Brian Rogers and myself, under the name “An Caidreamh Eiriú – the forum for local economies”, addressing well-attended seminars in Banagher, Roscrea, Carrigallen, Kilronan / Inishmore and inevitably, an international colloquium in Westport.
These occasions witnessed Terry O’Regan launching Landscape Alliance Ireland and they preceded Freda’s appointment by Michael D Higgins as first chair of the Heritage Council when it became a statutory body. My focus moved into Crann and Oak Glen.
Landscape? Heritage? Forestry? Richard had the gift of being able to show the economics in the weave all strands, as his later work with Feasta so impressively demonstrated.
He would regularly amaze me by referencing conversations he’d just had with people here, there and everywhere. And with that, he was the best of present company; a lovely man. He is truly irreplaceble and will be sorely missed by very many, worldwide.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam uasal
Richard Douthwaite was a big influence in my life. We met at Schumacher College in 1997, during his course there, and since then we have been in touch. Richard taught a two-week course in the Czech Republic in 1999 on economic alternatives, which I organised, and where he met Juraj Zamkovský whom he and Mary later visited in Slovakia. One of the outputs of this visit was a Slovakian translation of his book, The Ecology of Money (2002).
It was through Richard that I met his colleagues at Feasta and was privileged to attend several open space workshops, organised by Feasta trustee John Jopling, which have inspired us to organise a similar type of event for the last five years in the Czech Republic. Richard attended one of these Czech open space workshops in 2007, and there is a film from the workshop showing him predicting the economic crisis more than a year before it actually arrived.
Richard was a great source of support during my stay at the Centre for Human Ecology in Edinburgh in 2001-2, and later helped get my book, which germinated there, published by Feasta. Discussions with Richard gave me the confidence to delve more deeply into economic issues and eventually to start my career as a lecturer in ecological economics at the Brno Masaryk University.
When I saw him last in summer 2011, he was confident that he might yet pull through his last illness. Up to the very end Richard kept up hope – for himself and for the world. His optimism on the one hand and his visions of a world crumbling in multiple crises on the other formed a strange contrast. His sunny personality made the dire messages somehow easier to digest, more so because he always had some way out of the predicament up his sleeve, if only people would listen. He never forced his ideas on anyone however, always retaining a British tolerance and sense of humour. Though he lived in Ireland, he was actually British, although, if I am not mistaken, he gave up his British citizenship after the British invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
Richard was an unbelievably hard-working man, an original and prolific thinker and writer who deserved much more attention from the mainstream than he was accorded. At the same time, serving as he did in the Feasta management group, he gave generously of his time both to his organisation, Feasta, and to his friends and colleagues, sharing ideas, reading, discussing and commenting our texts, answering questions, organising conferences, and editing or co-editing conference proceedings and Feasta reviews. He also took part in practical projects to make Ireland more sustainable. It is a wonder where he found the time and energy for all he did. Perhaps he got part of his energy from his work caring for the family house and land, often outdoor activities which I believe he enjoyed greatly.
I continue to use Richard’s texts in my teaching and writing, and memories of our conversations remain with me. I am sorry that he was not allowed to stay with us longer. It is difficult to give shape to feelings via words, and re-reading this text, it seems to convey so little of Richard’s actual personality and of his many intellectual gifts for which I never thanked him properly. It is now too late to do so. This world feels emptier and I feel lonelier without him.
Marie Power, on behalf of Waterford City Community Forum
Waterford City Community Forum (WCCF) was saddened to hear of the passing of Richard Douthwaite.
His connection to WCCF was in 2005 when he spoke, in the WIT auditorium, at a screening of the iconic film “The End of Suburbia”. Richard placed the film in an Irish context and conducted a thought-provoking survey asking audience members to consider what changes they would make in their lives in the absence of cheap oil, when the cost of everything from imported goods to fuel would increase. Many people who attended that event were shocked and stimulated by the message. Richard was of the view that if people were exposed to potentially overhwelming and challenging information, then they should also be given some practical tools and pointers with which to cope and deal with that. He came across as a warm, engaging and good-humoured person.
He was an intelligent and constructive economist, and was, apparently, before his time. His insights and calls for more localisation of economies, how Ireland should tackle its greenhouse gas emissions, replacement of earth-damaging monoculture with biodynamic methods of food production and the creation of local currencies, are now a feature of many “Transition Towns” in the UK and worldwide. He favoured the “small is beautiful” philosophy and pointed a way to live sustainably, in the ecological sense of the word.
He represented the opposite of the greedy celebrity-type economist: he asked only for his expenses to be covered when he spoke at the WIT, and used public transport to get to Waterford from the West – a feat in itself. ( In contrast to another, much better-known, celebrity economist who spoke at another WCCF conference that year; HE insisted on accomodation at expensive Dunbrody House, and a driver to bring him to Waterford and back, and then had the audacity to pronounce on social housing!).
FEASTA means future and Richard Douthwaite was someone who really thought about the future and tried to create a society which would have a healthy future.
Looking back on a decade of foolish economics and governance, many of his ideas would have served us far better, in the longer-term, than those actually pursued.
May he rest in peace.
WCCF is an umbrella group for community and voluntary organisations in the city, with representation on SPCs and CDB.
Lorna Arblaster and David Adshead
We very much enjoyed meeting Richard and so appreciate his contribution to
our understanding of financial and other issues.
Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members.
Caroline Whyte has been involved with Feasta since 2002. She studied ecological economics at Mälardalen University in Sweden, writing a masters thesis on the relationship between central banking and sustainability. She contributed to Feasta’s books Fleeing Vesuvius and Sharing for Survival. Along with four other Feasta climate group members she helped to launch the CapGlobalCarbon initative at the COP-21 summit in Paris in December 2015. She is also an active member of Feasta’s currency group . She is a steering group member of the Wellbeing Economy Hub for Ireland, the Environmental Pillar, and Stop Climate Chaos Ireland, and is one of three Pillar members of the Irish National Economic and Social Council (NESC). She lives in central France, from where she edits the Feasta website.
157 Replies to “In memoriam: Richard Douthwaite”
I feel honoured to have known and worked with Richard for these past few years- someone so far ahead of his time in understanding the world and its dysfunctional systems and full of ideas for making them work better.
Now its up to us all to expand this legacy of ideas in ways that Richard would approve of.
My condolences to Mary and Richard’s family. He was a remarkable man and I was very fond of him.
Richard is one of those rare individuals whose influence will live long after they are gone. The Growth Illusion is still going strong nearly two decades after it was written, with people still discovering it and sharing their experiences online. How many economist can say that of their writing. I read The Growth Illusion while working in banking in the City of London, and it started me down the road of exploring sustainability and all that that has led to. Feeling very bold, I called Richard one day after finishing his book and for the first time felt his warm enthusiasm for anyone wanting to challenge the status quo. In all the years of calling and then skyping Richard with “I have this idea…” he always listened carefully and shared and challenged and occasionally took on board those ideas, and never once left me feeling unqualified. His passing leaves a huge gap in my life and my heart goes out to his family at this time.
All of us at Cultivate in Dublin are saddened today, and will miss Richard, his calm demeanor, his brilliant intellect, his enthusiasm and grace. We are grateful for having known him and for his many many contributions to our work, innumerable conference appearances and so much more.
Richard was an absolute gentleman. Words really can’t express my sense of loss, I’ll miss his intellect greatly but I will miss his sheer wonderful humour and humanity even more. We really were lucky to have known such a man.
A sad loss. He has made such valuable contributions for so many years.
Recent studies of neurobiology have shown that having an optimistic frame of mind produces greater brain activity in the centers that control creativity. Anyone who knew Richard Douthwaite knew how true this could be. Richard always had an easy smile and a brilliant insight into whatever problem you might care to pose. He tackled all of the big ones that challenge us, like climate change, financial collapse and oppression. He was equally good at vacuuming up solutions and processing them for their strengths and weaknesses. We crossed paths at international conferences for biochar in Newcastle, petroleum in Cork, climate in Copenhagen, and many more. But he also dropped his work on heavy tomes to teach day-long sections of our permaculture class or to lecture for Cultivate in Dublin. He was one of the most amazing and inspiring men I will ever have the honor of knowing.
Richard was, for me, the man who explained just about everything, in economics at least! For years I struggled to understand the obsession with ‘economic growth’ and how world trade was rigged against the poorer countries, but none of the conventional explanations made much sense to me. I always felt there was something missing. Then I came across Richard’s short book, The Ecology of Money, which was a revelation. It showed how the monetary system, rarely discussed by the mainstream (until recently), was really at the heart of it all. I went on to read his other books, The Growth Illusion and Short Circuit, and learnt so much more.
Richard wasn’t just brilliant at explaining complex issues, he was also an amazing creative thinker. He always seemed to have another elegant idea for making our systems work better. Despite his brilliance, his warmth, generosity and sense of humour always shone through. He really will be badly missed.
Richard has been very influential for me, opening my ideas to the real problems of our societies, the unsustainable economic status quo. I am deeply honored to have been taught by him, have been working with him, to have been listened by him, and to have been contributing a tiny bit to his work, but also to have met this wonderful person or listening to his heartfelt laughters. Thanks Richard. Blessings to his family.
Richard’s positive approach to solving very complex issues with great warmth of personality was always a beacon around which those with imaginings of different roads and futures would gather. Rest in peace after your hard struggle Richard
There are no words at a time like this – the loss of Richard cannot be captured through the strokes of a computer keyboard. But sharing what he meant to us, hopefully will be of some solace to Mary and the family. For them to know here was a man who was respected, admired, but above all loved.
It was our privilege to meet, know and befriend Richard and through him, his family. My wife Mari and I had the honour of being guests at his home when Richard invited me to deliver the Feasta lecture and the gift of reciprocating by having him and his family as our guests in our home in the Nilgiri mountains of Tamilnadu, India.
By a strange coincidence, at about the same time of Richard’s passing, our dinner conversation turned to climate change, new economics and alternative currencies and of course Richard and his insights into this became the centrepiece and we went upstairs to our study and I pulled out his books for our guests to glance through.
The world will be that much emptier without him.
thanks so much richard, may your inspirational ideas and methods for elucidating them continue to ripple outwards 🙂
Richard was just the kind of guy he should be: so much qualities in such an admirable character. He will leave an enormous vacuum for Mary and the rest of the family, but also for us, all around the world. May I quote Paul in a way that he is not often understood: when we die we do no longer live in any way we think of life but at the same time we live a lot in the footprint we made on earth. With Richard this goes far beyond fond memories. He was the kind of man that really had impact on his environment. So like the plant no longer lives when it dies his footsprint, his essence is fully alive in the seeds that he created. First of course his essence continues to live in his family, but I doubt not it will live far beyond that and I will be happy to do what I can to reinforce that essence
henk van arkel
I got to know Richard in 2000, when he spoke about New Coops at The Organic Centre’s farming day and have admired his forward thinking and inspirational articles ever since.
I met Richard at his home in Westport around ten years ago and was in touch with him, on and off, ever since. He was supremely insightful, amusing, dedicated, charming, immensely generous, both with time and with books, searingly critical of the ethos that led Ireland (amongst so many others) into unsustainability, but profoundly determined to invest every ounce of his energy in keeping alight a candle of enquiry into what could possibly be done to reorientate ourselves and our values. I am deeply saddened by this news of his death, both personally and professionally. My thoughts go out to his family and close friends. May they understand that he was hugely valued and valuable and that the memory of what he did, and what he stood for, elevates him to the status of a real hero for our times. Thanks for the shape you made in the world, you were key to unlocking the best of those who knew you.
My abiding memory of Richard was a little over two years ago chatting in unseasonable warmth in South Stephen’s Green about how we might solve Ireland’s debt crisis and while we were at it, achieve a transition to a low carbon economy.
Big Picture stuff.-
It’s still there to do, and I am deeply saddened that Richard – a genuinely good and straightforward man – will now be a part of it only in spirit.
But maybe that will be enough.
I could echo so many of the wonderful words written above…Richard was a truly remarkable man, with great communication skills, great enthusiasm and great generosity of spirit,.
I’m sure he himself would acknowledge how vitally important Mary was to his life and his work, and so I want to send her and the family blessings, and every best wish for the days ahead, with love, Charlie.
Having arrived at the conclusion around 2002 that the current neo-classical debt based economic system which requires continual growth to survive was fundamentally flawed in a world of diminishing resources, it was a key moment for me to discover FEASTA, the organisation Richard Douthwaite co-founded, and to meet like minded people who had also arived at similar inescapable conclusions. I had the priviledge of listening to and meeting Richard at a number of FEASTA events. Richards work was actually referenced in the MSc course I studied on Sustainable Development. However in the main it remains imo a monumental failing of Irish and global universities that the fundamental truths behind Richard’s work and other key thinkers who created peer reviewed sustainability models, such as Herman Daly, and Karl-Henrik Robert, have not been integrated into ALL sectors of modern education. Few indeed have dared to challenge the mass delusion of the current system. As more and more people embrace the need to create a sustainable future, Richard Douthwaite’s work stands as a key reference for generations to come.
Richard was a wonderfully inspiring & enlightened soul. A truly great thinker & warm human being. It’s very hard to accept he’s gone. His legacy will live on & continue to grow among all the great things he initiated & nurtured over the years.
Like many others know, it was an absolute privilege to have met him personally. No matter what level of expertise you had he would always engage, warmly & freely share his thoughts & help you to a better understanding.
My heartfelt condolences to all his family & friends. He will be sorely missed.
Richard will be remembered for many things but perhaps most of all, for his kindness and creativity. As others have written he was someone you felt you could ring at any time and be sure that he would give you the information or opinion you were looking for in a gracious friendly manner. His explanations of the complex concepts he was developing were always given in the tolerant manner of a true teacher. If you asked him to speak at an event there was never sense that it was an obligation. For as long as I can remember he was an intellectul cornerstone of the environmental movement in Ireland.
His creativity was most evident in the alternative money systems or carbon reduction schemes that he worked on with a wide variety of national and internation collaborators. He was never afraid to question the fundamental assumptions of economics and by doing so he was far more relevant and accurate than the vast ranks of conventional economists who failed to see the real nature of what was happening in our world. At this time of change, his wisdom and his good humour will be sadly missed.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam
I met him only briefly in Dublin last May, but I was immediately struck by his curiosity and open-mindedness. It wasn’t difficult to recognize what a great man he was,
Michel Bauwens, P2P Foundation
I only met Richard a couple of times but in both cases he was so friendly and a great inspiration. I feel privileged to have met him and unfortunate to not have got to know him better.
Richard was a wonderful advocate of the environmental ethic and will be missed by many.
Richard was a one-off and his loss is a tragedy. Today he would be needed more than ever. I think his greatest quality was that he never minded ignorance, it could be cured, but he hated stupidity, which cannot. Is there anyone to take his place?
From the Westmeath Env. Group.
I met Richard early 1990’s during a meeting in Weimar. We were friends immediately. During the years following we engaged in beautiful projects, searching for break through models in Community Currencies. I always enjoyed being with him, working with him. His intelligence, his brightness, his stubornness. As Henk already said; richard was how he should be.
I will miss him.
I wish his family and friends all the best.
Rob van Hilten
I wish I had come across Richard and his work earlier. He was an incisive and broad ranging thinker, an original ecological economist and a very energetic, warm and inspiring person.
Somewhere in the mid-nineties I started to work with Richard. He had just finished his second book Short Circuit, which inspired us enormously. We worked together in the Barataria project, and started to organise trainings and seminars on community currencies. I stayed at his house in Westport several times, and he came regularly over to the Netherlands.
Richard was warm, funny, and sharp.
Richard inspired a whole generation of community currency activists and experts to start, to continue and to innovate. My thoughts are with Mary, his family and his friends. I will miss him.
Edgar Kampers | Qoin.org
I am so sorry to hear this. It leaves a gap in my life that will remain. Although we did not meet often, whenever we did it was inspiring and so very encouraging.
I guess it makes it even more important to pursue with rigour and vigour the objectives we share.
I wish his family and those close to him all the very best.
I was very saddened to hear of Richard’s death and feel greatly privileged to have worked with him for a little while.
In many ways he was a model independent public intellectual and activist – always available and patient in explaining his ideas and engaging with those who wished to contribute, at whatever level. His ideas live on and are becoming more relevant by the day, as the current crisis of capitalism evolves. As does his example, in daring to propose and try to carry through radical ‘unthinkable’ solutions.
My condolences to his family.
Richard’s infectious enthusiam made me realise that we should never give up. That is such an important legacy for him to leave us. Graham Lightfoot
A friend emailed me this morning to tell me the news. I didn’t know Richard as well as many who will post on this list, but I felt a strong connection to him. He was always helpful and supportive of what I was doing. Ironically, I had resolved this morning (before I got the news) to get in touch with him today for the first time for well over a year. So it goes. I am on the one hand surprised at the sharp sense of loss I feel, and on the other not – the world has lost a generous spirit and a trailblazing mind.
Very sad to hear about Richard. I didn’t know him very well personally, but he was a friendly character who inspired people with his visionary thinking and if we are to have a better and sustainable future it will be thanks in great part to his work. Condolences from myself and all at CELT to his family and friends.
I first got to know Richard at a “Future in Our Hands” meeting, inspired by the writing of Norwegian Erik Dammann, that he so skillfully organized in Westport in September 1986 (re FIOH, see: http://www.fiohnetwork.org/). That is where my current career really began, and I thank Richard deeply for setting me off on the ensuing exciting pathway. So I am really saddened to learn of his untimely demise.
I kept in loose contact with Richard over the years, as he blazed a trail on growth, short circuits, money and so many other themes. He helped organize a wonderful event at the Tipperary Institute in 2002, which led to the ground-breaking book “When the Wells Run Dry”. We collaborated more recently on an energy piece in Construct Ireland. His appetite for knowledge was voracious and always positive. I am not sure I ever heard a cross word from Richard, though I cannot imagine he did not get as frustrated as me with the pace of progress and the obstinate naysayers.
I was unaware that Richard was unwell, and so was a bit shocked to receive this news just now. If I can I would like to attend the services.
Goodbye dear friend and mentor,
I first met Richard in the mid 1990s when he presented at our workshop on sustainable living. Having read some of the above comments, I couldn’t agree more. Richard was all of those things and will be missed by many here and abroad.
Richard was and is a great source of inspiration. He has lived in practice the combination of being motivated by ideals, having the courage to rethink the basic structures on which our society and economy are based and dedicating his work and efforts towards practical solutions for his proposals.
Although his critical approach has earned him the title of the “glass-is-half-empty economist”, his personal stance towards life, his friends and our globe have always been a generously filled cup of optimism and hope
Together with Mary they have formed such a lovely couple. My condoleances go out to her and the rest of his family.
I first met Richard in the mid 1990s when he presented at our workshop on sustainability. Having read some of the above comments I couldn’t agree more. He will be missed by many – here in Ireland and abroad. May his gentle soul rest in peace.
I feel very privileged to have known Richard Douthwaite. His most outstanding characteristic as far as I am concerned was his generosity. He was extraordinarly generous with his time, his advice and his enthusiasm. He was also a very positive person to work alongside. Despite the fact that his intellectual output was often overlooked or ignored by mainstream economists, he remained positive, optimitstic and always ready to see the funny side of things. He was courteous and pleasant to the very many people who came to him for help or advice. I was also always struck by his lack of ego and his humility. Despite his impressive intellect and his wide-ranging knowledge about so many subjects, he never gave the impression of being an expert. He was a visionary and spent a lot of his time thinking and imagining how a post-oil, post-crisis world might look. The environmental moment in Ireland was very fortunate to have an economist and thinker of his calibre to work alongside. He will be sorely missed. His ideas, and the contribution he made both nationally and internationally to the sustainable development movement will live on long after him. May he rest in peace.
Richard was truly a remarkable and inspirational man. His thinking and writing was such a massive contribution to advancing the ideas of sustainability, resilience and new economics.
On a personal level, having served n the early days on the Board of Feasta for several years i and having worked with Richard on the organisation of many Feasta events and workshops, as well as the first Understanding the Economics of Sustainability evening course here in Kimmage Manor, it was with great sadness to hear of his loss. He was a great inspiration and guide in my own path to understanding of the crucial issues that face us today.
My sincere condolences to Richards family and close friends at this time
The Ancestors have gained a worthy companion, but he will be sorely missed on this side of the coin.
I didn’t know Richard very well, but I did meet him several times and enjoyed his presence very much. I’m glad to have this opportunity to express my respects and send my condolences to his close friends and family in this time.
I only had the pleasure of meeting Richard once sometime in 2001. I was a member of the University of Limerick Environmental Society and we had invited him to the campus to take part in an evening styled on the “Questions and Answers” TV programme. Richard made the trip from Westport to Limerick – not a straightforward route at all – and then delighted the audience with his insights. The other three panelists represented UL Business dept., the ICMSA and the Debt and Development Coalition. I think they were impressed too.
Another memory I have is that Richard was the first person I heard to say that Uranium was a fossil fuel and that global supplies were limited. Although he was probably not the first to raise this salient point it showed for me how tuned in he was to latest thinking on climate change mitigation issues.
Go déanfaidh Dia trócaire ar a anam
Eoin Ó Broin
A great man has passed away. May his ideas continue to spark other minds.
A Schumacher lecture by Richard changed the direction of my life. I hesitated to contact the great man, but did so, we became friends and he was like a personal tutor always having time to correct and encourage when I needed his help with writing. He was the precursor of the movement to reclaim life from homo-economicus that, hopefully, is now coming to fruit, focussed by the Occupy movement. At Feasta he brought together inspiring thinkers, initiated wonderfully creative concepts like the Liquidity Network, but in discussion groups he acted as just another participant, deferring to others’ views. Marion and I have many personal memories of his humorous warmth even while laying paving together in the rain.
I remember meeting Richard like it happenned yesterday, in Dublin in the summer of 1999; I knew that I had met an extraordinary man. I immediatly read his book Short Circuit and used it’s ideas as a basis for a project I was running in Ivory Park, Johannesburg called the Ecocity Project. Even today the co-operatives that were established are based on his ideas. Richard came down to South Africa frequently to see the work we were doing and give his input and he gave talks about Peak Oil and alterantive currencies when these subjects were very new ideas. Richard was my mentor, but he was also my dear freind. and when I ran into trouble I always called him for advice. He was always available for a quick chat, or a meeting over tea and cake in Dublin. He was entirely generous with himself and the most optimistic person I knew. He could see the funny side of everything, even very stressful siutaitions. I owe a lot to Richard and will continue to bring his ideas and spirit into my work. My heartfelt thoughts are with Mary and the family at this time. In South Africa when people leave we say Sale Kahle ( go well) and I hope it is in peace for a life well lived and well loved.
A true gentleman and generous with his time. A real visionary and it is perhaps a reflection of the times we live in that Steve Jobs, a gadget salesman, was regarded as a visionary. Perpetual Growth is an illusion as well explained by Richard. RIP.
I can’t believe it! This is not a man somehow who I had thought would die.
An important thinker, a big big influence on me as on so many others, and someone who (each time I had the privilege to interact with him directly) was unfailingly thoughtful and decent.
Just saw the news of Richard’s death. What a shock! I know I’ve been out of touch for a long time, but Jacqui and I wanted to say how warmly we remember Richard. His generous spirit and commitment was always an inspiration. I remember working with him on a workshop up in Donegal many years ago and as we both drove away he straight away pulled over to pick up a hitch hiker. A small moment of kindness and living his values of treading lightly on the earth!
I am still inspired by his ideas and read and re-read his stuff and share it with others. What a wonderful life! Our thoughts are with Mary and family.
It was Richard’s work on the illusion of growth that inspired me to become an activist and, in fact, a member of FEASTA even though I live in Canada. It is indeed sad to hear that he is gone.
President, Moncton and District Labour Council
I am so very saddened to hear of Richard’s passing. His work has a monumental influence on me as a professor and doctoral student. I have shared his work with my students in classes I’ve taught ever since I first met Richard and Mary at a conference in Santa Fe in 2006. His insights on what ails us in the globalized industrial world and how we might remedy the many converging challenges we face have been absolutely essential to me as an educator and person doing my best to make contributions toward sustainable social change. I will continue to share Richard’s work with my students, colleagues and friends. It is so important.
My heart goes out to Mary and Richard’s entire family. You must miss him very much.
With deepest respect and gratitude,
Tina Evans, Colorado, USA
I only met Richard once, but his work and writings are a constant reference point for me.
A truly great loss to society at a time when we need the likes of him most.
Thank you for your contribution to mankind.
You will be sorely missed Richard, may you rest in peace.
My sincere sympathies to Richard’s family and friends on your loss.
Richard was a warm and inspiring man who assisted many of us to a better understanding of the way that the world works. While he provided clear insight into the environmental and economic problems that we face today, Richard went beyond this and worked hard at presenting the big ideas to offer solutions to these problems. This store of innovative ideas, models and clear analysis is a substantial legacy which he has left us – hopefully we can use them well. Thank you Richard for your alternative viewpoints, leadership and compassion.
I was sorry to hear the news about Richard Douthwaite’s illness and passing. He made an important contribution to economics, but also a vital contribution to the deeper social debate about the role of the economy in society and how to make it sustainable.
Very sad, Richard, that you had to leave us already now!
As Barbara Panvel writes: you will be missed – but not forgotten! I shall ALWAYS value your thinking and writing as the most comprehensive and holistice among the monetary reform literature.
Trusting that you’ll help us from your higher perspective,
Forum for Stable Currencies
Richard’s brilliance and insightfulness continue to speak to us from his writings. Those of us who had the privilege of knowing him personally and of working with him will miss above all his quiet kindness, his patience and his unflagging good nature in the face of adversity. My sincere condolences to Mary and family. May he rest in peace.
Just heard today about the passing of Richard. He will be greatly missed, a man of great ideas and vision. I met him a nunber of times when I was a Councillor with the Green Party, he was a very interesting warm person. May he rest in peace and condolences to his family.
What a simply lovely man. The strongest memory I hold of him is his ease, humour and ability to inspire and empower our students. He wore his vast learning and wisdom so lightly, always making it feel like an exciting shared journey of exploration. Thanks for all, Richard – you are a complete gentleman.
Richard seemed both extremely clever and generous with his time – two things you don’t often find in one person.
He opened my eyes to a different way of looking at the world, and I’m awfully sorry to hear this news.
My thoughts are with his family and friends.
Although I have only known Richard for a short number of years, I have been profoundly touched by his humility and his humanity. I believe the greatest tribute we can pay him is to continue his work with renewed vigour.
My condolences to Mary and all the family.
Very saddened by this news. Richard’s intellectual contribution was enormous, and The Growth Illusion and Short Circuit will long be regarded as ahead of their time. My sympathies to his family and close friends.
Goodbye Richard one of the great optimists of a new way of doing things, your inspiration will be missed, but lives on and on and on ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
When I was writing a New Zealand newsletter called The Indicator I had to review books. Someone told me to read Short Circuit. I was hooked. So in 1997 I organized a trip for Richard round New Zealand. Driving him round was such a pleasure and I learnt so much from him. He was studying green dollar schemes and he addressed the Green Party caucus. Since then we have been in touch and I have kept up with his writing and action. The latest was just last week when I read his brilliant chapter on Supplying Money in an Energy Scarce World and thought it had major implications for our New Economics Party, which we founded three months ago here. I am so sad and even thought of breaking my no flying rule and coming to the funeral. His death is a big loss to the world.
I only had one week of lectures with Richard at Schumacher College, but he was one of the more influential teachers I have had. He had an openness and genuineness about him that I found rare and precious. He not only had deep insight and the ability to communicate this to a lay audience, but he had what seemed like unlimited capacity to make time for our questions and clarifications long after we finished the course with him. Richard, your teachings have been an invaluable gift to the world. Thank you.
The Earth has lost dear Richard D
Who saw how things were meant to be
A ready smile and those wise eyes
Now passed away – a sad surprise
His brain unraveled money’s tricks
Unveiled the depths of economics
His insights more than ever needed
Would his words could now be heeded
We’ll do our best to carry the flame
To bandy words and play the game
And not to stop ‘til sense has come
Bad money tamed and victory won.
I regret that I never met Richard. Yet I have been following Richard’s work since Growth Illusions and continued on to Fleeing Vesuvius. He was one of the few brave thinkers, writers, organizers and educators, who made a deep diferene in the thinking and acting of our generation. We will miss him.
Pramod Parajuli, Ph.D.
Richard Douthwaite was so inspirational and will be for a long time. clear thinking on these issues is the most needed thing. i pray that there are many who can and will take his place, I am sorry for all those who knew him, but we need to keep going together to break the desperate inequality, love Mimi
I am very shocked and saddened to hear of Richard’s death. I only knew him a little, but you always think there will be time to get to know people like him better and to discuss ideas with them. He has been taken far too soon. All I can do now is reread his books – small consolation, but so much better than nothing…
On the several occasions on which I was in an audience being addressed by Richard, I left with that unsettling feeling that characterises the acknowledgement of original thinking. In so many spheres, his ideas were well ahead of political acceptability but their time will come. Richard’s passing is a real loss to the sustainability communities of Ireland, North & South.
A visionary and alternative thinker of the greatest calibre,what a loss.We will miss you greatly Richard.
I was stunned to read of Richard’s death, so untimely. I had not realised that he was ill. He was always most helpful to me and such an inspiration to so many people. The work that he has done with his writings and in co-founding FEASTA will be his memorial. He has truly started a fire in terms of promoting an alternative economic. His passing is doubly sad at this time when he had so much to contribute to creating a better way of doing things. He will be sorely missed.
Richard was a rare economist who did not smirk at the idea of community currencies. He grasped them for what they were: a vital social technology needed by the future that was still in its infancy when he started writing about them. Partly thanks to his boldness in putting them on the economic map of serious thought and his willingness to support grassroots practitioners in their crazy experiments, they are now poised on the brink of adulthood.
I well remember his kindness in hosting a workshop for me to present my emerging ideas about sustainability factors for community currencies in Dublin a few years back. He sat patiently listening to a handful of practitioners sharing their ideas, constructively supporting us all to continue developing.
May we all keep his spirit alive by committing ourselves again to creating a world that works for all based on values of compassion and sustain-ability.
A mentor to many, a brilliant human being whose warmth, generosity of spirit, time and dedication inspired me greatly to contribute in my own unique way. I will hold this memory close to my heart and try harder to work harder as this is what i believe he has to teach all of us.
Thank you Richard.
A great loss for this country. Fortunately Richard started a ball rolling which is now unstoppable and gathering momentum. Let us all be grateful for people of vision, like Richard. R.I.P.
A great loss indeed and we thank him sincerely for his great work and great contributions. May he rest in peace.
Ireland needs him more than ever.
His intellectual freedom and independence will be missed
May he rest in peace
Ireland has lost its greatest economist and one of the best in the world. No other thinker has ever made such an impression on me as Richard Douthwaite and in particular, his amazing book The Growth Illusion.
Richard was a true inspiration and a very humble man. He was one of the early supporters of Trucost and his work informed much of my thinking around the interaction of money and the ecosystem. He once asked me if there really was a chance we could change the system before it collapsed. I said “I hope so but probably the system has to collapse first”. It feels like we are at that point and it is sad he will not be around to witness that and be part of the change process. However, his books and his work with Feasta will provide a wonderful legacy for us all.
My thoughts are with his family and colleagues.
He was and remains one of the good guys – the heart and soul of everything he touched with his heart and soul.
Richard made a difference : shocked and saddened by his passing:hope the Green Party will ‘stop digging’, and LISTEN to what Richard said: this country needs new insight at the source of power, the democratic mandate: work at the level of mediia and with our new President may be the twin track we need: let’s take spiritual energy from his loss, to vindicate his life work :he has passed a noble torch.
I’m deeply disappointed to hear that. All his personal merits as a human being aside, for the world’s sake it would have been good to have him around as existing economic structures shudder and weaken, and as openness to alternative currency structures grows.
I am shocked and saddened to hear of Richard Douthwaite’s death. May I offer my condolences to his family and colleagues.
Like Freda Rowntree who I am glad to see remembered in a comment above, he was one of those people who are special beyond words, even to those who have never met them. Such people are the true nobility.
I learned more about money, and more quickly, from Richard’s books than from any other source. These books answered many questions but raised others which for several years I’ve had lined up ready to ask; I took it for granted that I’d have time to ask them. I don’t often feel such a great sense of loss for those I’ve never met.
Even during my short time in Ireland, Richard and I crossed paths, which shows how consistently and universally he applied himself to all aspects of sustainability. He was a tireless supporter of all related and connect work, we will be hard pressed to replace his constant stream of writing and networking/organizing energy. His best tribute is our continuing work. Thank you, Richard.
I am deeply saddened to hear of Richard’s passing. In my encounters with him, he was always a very warm and accessible man. He co-created a new intellectual space in Ireland.
Richard was such a big bear of a man with a towering intellect but who was always gracious and humble in sharing it. I particularly remember the early nineties when attempting to set up a Green Party group in Westport – sitting in the house in Cloona as he moved salt and pepper pots around the kitchen table explaining global financial markets and currencies.
He was a warm gentle giant and the posts here reflect that. He has left a legacy, a treasure trove, through his various writings, of an approach to economics that is’people-centred, community-orientated and sustainabile. ‘Special beyond words’ is so fitting. My condolences to all.
I was very saddened to hear of Richard’s death. I agree with all the comments already made about Richard’s humanity, intellect and vision. He had more influence on my own thinking than anyone else I have met. I also remember his generosity, especially when he and Mary invited my wife and I to visit Cloona in 2001 to help me recuperate from a heart by-pass operation. Cycling around the area helped me build up my strength very quickly. I will always remember him as a close friend. Many years ago we worked together to try and establish a branch of the Future in Our Hands movement in Ireland. As in the UK, the launch was successful, but could not be sustained. He went on to help establish FEASTA whilst I focused more on international networking and supporting projects to help poor and otherwise diadvantaged people through two charities. My involvement with Richard has brought me into contact with people I greatly admire and respect who are working tirelessly to develop practical alternatives for the creation and distribution of wealth very different from the present crazy global system based on economic growth. I look forward reading the new book that will soon be published as a result of Brian Davey’s tireless efforts, which I think will in many ways will also be a fitting memorial to Richards’ life and work and perhaps the prelude to a radically new way of thinking about how we all need to respond to the ecological and economic crises that threaten our children and grandchildren.
We were very sad to hear the news of Richard’s death. He was truly committed to raising awareness and generously shared his vast knowledge. We send our deepest sympathy to Richard’s family and friends and are forever grateful for his support of Crann. May he rest in peace.
Richard Douthwaite was one of the few genuinely great men I have met and a true visionary.
While he and Feasta were predicting, decades ago, the very state of affairs in which the world now finds itself, virtually every economist and Finance Minister was a ‘bull.’ But Richard saw clearly what no so-called ‘expert’ was able to grasp:
No Prime Minister, no President, no Chancellor of the Exchequer, no First Secretary to the Treasury; not the Financial Times, nor the Economist; not the City of London nor Wall Street; not the LSE nor Harvard Business School; not the IMF, nor the OECD nor the WTO – not one of them.
And despite his great intellectual powers he was humble – because true genius is never jealous.
He was a charming man and treated me and I’m sure every one he encountered as an equal whose viewpoints mattered.
I have met many of the so-called “Great and the Good.” Not one of them was as great or as good as Richard Douthwaite.
My condolensces to his family and God Bless him.
Thanks for your life, and innovative thinking. We have all benefited from it. Rose
Richard was an example of what a true economist is about in these critical times: exploring basic tenets of non-working global systems. Being engaged in monetary transformation by basing the international monetary system on a carbon standard, I discussed with Richard the differences between the EBCU and the Tierra. I think he will have been most pleased with my book of the “Tierra Solution: Monetary transformation, climate change and sustainable development” that will be on the market in a couple of months and that incorporates many of his ideas. I will sorely miss him. My condolences to his family and to the FEASTA community.
Frans Verhagen, New York CIty
Not long ago I referenced some of his insights in an essay on sustainable development. It’s sad to find out that such a visionary has passed away. May we celebrate his contribution, and may God rest his soul and bless his loved family and close friends.
Ireland & the World has lost a thought leader. While we will miss Richard on a personal level, his vision and spirit will continue through our actions. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
As one of the lay people who only had the privilege of meeting Richard in recent years, I am profoundly saddened at his passing. I first heard him speak at the Irish Green Gathering on Cap and Share. To hear someone with such obvious breadth of knowledge speak so optimistically about solving huge issues through straightforward ideas was so encouraging. Particularly to a fellow optimist who doesn’t command such substance to back up her point of view. Richard was fully impassioned and moved to tears as he saw some real opportunities for change. I commented on this to neighbour in the audience who simple said “yes that’s Richard.”
My work in the Transition movement in Ireland for the last view years has brought me to many events where I was privileged to hear Richard speak, in large venues and community halls. I was amazed that each time he shared something new and equally engaging and I always encouraged anyone I could to hear him and read his books. I only exchanged a few words with him on these occasions but was always struck by his warmth and humility and ability to make me feel important. I only met Mary once in Cloughjordon, where we had a lovely gardening chat talking about bad weather seasons and learning that I could over winter my runner beans! I am sure she provided much grounding and care for this lovely man. My thoughts are with her.
This year I was honoured to share a stage with Richard at a movie launch whose title could serve as a fitting epitaph for his life’s work “The Economics of Happiness”
My condolences to all his family and my thanks to them for sharing this inspiration man with us all.
I feel a deep sense of sadness at Richard’s passing.
Since I first met him in Westport in the heady days of the RIO Summit through to his unstinting support of our community supported agriculture project in North Louth and during more recent conversations about local currency schemes Richard always brough a sense of reasurance and warmth that is not so plentiful when working on the margins.
I would always experience a sense of excitement before he delivered a speech and also pride that I knew him personally.
Deepest sympathies to all of Richard’s family colleagues and friends.
Ireland has lost a giant of a man.
May he rest in peace
I was very sorry to hear of Richard’s passing. Though I didn’t know him well, I was inspired by his words and thoughts. Condolences to his family and Feasta friends.Ar laimh dheas Dhe go raibh a anam. Máire
I am very saddened to hear the death of Richard Douthwaite
May he rest in peace amen
Goodbye Richard, you will be missed. Thank you for your inspiration.
Richard got involved with a conference on climate change which Earthwatch put on in 1990–this was the first such conference in this country and it was typical of Richard that he would be there pushing the envelop
I am greatly saddened to hear of Richard Douthwaite’s death. I knew Richard as an educator who challenged and inspired all who met him. For many years he shared his insightful research on economics and the environment with students in the adult and community education sector. He enabled learners to better understand the world in which they live and to explore the possibilities for a sustainable inclusive future that would meet the needs of all.
We are all the poorer for Richard’s passing but we are all the richer for having encountered him.
Professor of adult and community education NUI Maynooth
We have lost a wonderful and inspiring person,Thank you Richard for your passion ,engagement , generousity and vision.
You are already missed.
Ann Marie Crosse
It is with deep regret that I have learned of Richard’s passing. My heartfelt condolences to his family.
Geraldine Nolan, Dublin
Ireland will be worse off without Richard, with his questioning and challenging mind . Especially now in these troubled times when economic orthodoxy is still so dominant. And he was a true gentleman in the best sense of the word.
I was so sorry to hear of the death of Richard, the great analyst and advocate for renewing the local economy.
I remember when I met Richard for the first time in the 1990s when I was at the New Economics Foundation. He told me that the global economy was going to crash and that he wanted my help to write a handbook on what we could do to prepare for this.
The result was the book Short Circuit, now a classic of localisation. It was a remarkable work, and innovative because Richard was able to look round the corners of orthodox mind sets and thinking. He had originally moved to where he lived in Ireland, buying land because he had thought before that the global economy was at risk of collapse. So he had lived out and thought out economic survival tactics.
To this, he added not just his huge charm and gentility but his brilliant touch as an economics journalist and writer. For example, he looked at the question as to whether in a world with oil scarcity, the horse would make a come-back as key to local economies – for transport and power. Well, he did the numbers on energy and prices and concluded that no, on balance, the mass use of horses would remain a feature of the past and not the future. It is an entirely reasonable question and only someone who had the courage and imagination to think through how the world would change around him could have answered it with rigour and insight.
His ideas around energy, money and climate change will live on.
The global, oil-dependent growth economy has outlived Richard, but it may not be for long and if so, his contribution will endure far longer.
I heard the news today and my thoughts are with Mary and the family. Dear Richard, you were a gentle, warm and special friend and colleague. My world is certainly a darker place without knowing you are there. We must all try to keep your beloved work going but we will miss your thinking, your vision and most of all your humanity. .
Richard was an inspiration. I wish I had had more chances to speak to him in person.
Not many can think outside the box, and Richard was one of the rare few who did and who influenced a great many people to do the same. The fact that his ideas, and those of many another independent thinker, are ignored does not matter. I think what matters in the end is not the degree to which a person has changed the world, but how much that person has changed within or ‘evolved’.
Clearly we can’t go on as we are. It seems certain too that we cannot rely on our political leaders to do the necessary. They are not leaders in any case, but followers. If they lead, it is from the rear. When we change, they will change. They will not do our work for us. The question we have to answer is, “What is enough?”
I have ‘Fleeing from Vesuvius.’ Richard writes the Introduction and then the first chapter which sets the stage for the essays which follow. It is his contention that mass production — a mode of production which replaces the skilled hand with a machine — sows the seeds of its own destruction. It will eventually cause mass unemployment and go on to kill the markets from which it draws its nourishment. Never mind that it causes an unhealthy concentration of capital and political power as well.
We choose it seems to remain in our Pompeii. This pride, this hubris, this stupidity exercised in a blatant display of efficiency, profit and control is our witless staging of an ancient and mythological tragedy. Unless we escape from our self-limiting box as Richard did; unless we ‘evolve,’ we are destined to fail, and badly.
I discovered Richard’s ideas in “Short Circuit”, but I only met him in a very interesting conference in Barcelona about De-growth in March 2010.
I’m very sorry he’s gone. His ideas and enthusiasm were very inspiring to me. My condolences to his family and friends.
Having completed a Business degree in an Irish institution, I went on to be lectured by Richard as part of a Masters. He too lectured me in Economics. I can truely say that no one has ever inspired me so much with regards to a Business Subject. He was truely inspirational, making economics relevant and being an exceptional and enthusiastic and passionate person. May he rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
The expressions of grief and sympathy from across the world that are recorded on these pages are a testament to the influence of Richard’s work and the warmth that people felt for him. I was introduced to his radical thinking when I was studying anthropology at NUI Maynooth 14 years ago. His book The Growth Illusion was on the reading list and after reading it I discovered he lived in Ireland. I somehow found his phone number and gave him a call asking if he would come and speak at the college. Without knowing me he gave his time freely and was typically obliging and kind. Richard was responsible for me finding a new direction in life in the field of sustainability of which I will be forever grateful.
Through FEASTA I had the pleasure of working with him on many different projects and his humility and humbleness always shone through. He was a decent and polite man, a heretic economist who not only drew our attention to the flaws in the system but offered a vision of how things could be.
My thoughts are with Mary and his children at this difficult time. His work has ignited a fire in so many of us that will burn bright for a long time to come. Rest in peace Richard.
I only learned this news today and I’m extremely sad about it. Richard wrote my recommendation letter for the Fletcher School where I am studying now. I truly would have not made it in without his help and it feels even worse to know that he might not have known how successful his help had been.
I wrote him an email on Monday to tell him I was enrolled in school and to ask whether he wanted to do some research on oil with me. I still can’t believe this is true.
I only wish he could have seen better progress on the issues he cared the most about.
Short Circuit was a seminal read for me in 1992, one of those rare literary works that is timeless. I was delighted to have occasion to cross paths with Richard a few times shortly after. Richard’s enthusiasm, engagement and humanness were rock solid and memorable. His presence and intelligence will certainly be sorely missed. Condolences to his family.
A beacon in the darkness and a beautiful person. My deepest condolences to his wife and family.
Richard was an amazing thinker and writer and his passing is a great loss to so many here in Ireland and indeed internationally. There was such clarity in his writing and he presented important ideas in such a compelling way, his books will continue to be valuable for many years to come. I have gained a great deal from his books since encountering them at the Lilliput Press back in the 1990s, and continue to regularly reference both Short Circuit and The Growth Illusio, and I’m currently reading Fleeing Vesuvius. I also remember many great talks by him at Feasta and Cultivate events. He will be sorely missed. With condolences to his family and friends.
I am very sad to hear of the death of Richard Douthwaite. I did not know him personally but knew him through his books and speeches at GP congresses and Feasta events. He was the real thing when it came to understanding what “sustainability” really means, in shart contrast to those who so misunderstand the word that they talk of “sustainable growth”. Was it in the spring of 2007, at the GP conference before the election which led to the coalition of FF and GP, that I heard Richard give a talk on the Euro ? I seem to remember him saying that there was major trouble ahead and that -wait for it – “Ireland should get out of the Euro now!”. I think he was not given the respect he deserved for that statement, made more than 4 years before the current crisis which threatens the Euro’s future, not to mention ours. I will remember Richard with the respect owed to a great and original thinker.
Richard. was the first social commentator to really alert me to the significance of the fossil fuel dependency that the global economy is founded upon. I still have the article somewhere which I came across about ten years ago – a two page broadsheet spread. I can say that some of the legacy of that startling realisation still lingers as I am now engaged in a PhD research to examine climate change responses of the public. He contributed much in his lifetime and society would be much better off if there were more like him.
We have lost a wonderful man whose passion, grace, humour and broad wisdom has enriched our world and touched the lives of many including me. I am deeply saddened by Richard’s death he was a real friend, inspirational, kind and generous. We must keep him alive in our hearts and together sustain the vital work he cared so deeply about. I remember an event in Cork about 10 years ago where Richard set the tone with a provocative dialogue about the workings of government making it impossible for newbies to take public office and effect real change; he made a powerful speech. One of the public reps detailed to respond made a totally vacuous speech in reply about recycling policy. The expression on Richard’s face was priceless and so funny. He was still incredulous 3 hours later in the bar.
Richard was a true inspiration and he will be sadly missed, both personally and professionally. My deepest condolences to his family.
I was first introduced to Richard’s Douthwaite’s work in the early 1990’s. Throughout the last two decades he has been a “constant” reference point for me on the subject of ecological economics; I have always admired his absolutely rational and scientific approach to environment issues (always delivered in a soft-spoken manner). Richard’s passing is Ireland’s loss – there has never been a greater need for someone of his intellect and courage to challenge conventional economic thinking – he will be sorely missed.
Like many others I first met Richard through his book ‘The Growth Illusion’. His writings changed my world view, influenced many of the decisions I made throughout my life and are the root cause of the large volume of books I have amassed on economics and sustainability. In the last few years, through the Transition Town movement, I had the pleasure of meeting Richard on a regular basis and becoming his friend. He was always willing to travel from Westport to speak at conferences we organised and to help us in our efforts to introduce the Liquidity Network to the local Council. His passing this week is a great loss to society and all of us in Future Proof Kilkenny are saddened by the news. In the Dillon household he will be remembered for his generosity of time, his optimism and profound intellect, but most of all for his infectious laughter.
I cannot improve on what David Healy stated.
Richard’s brilliance and insightfulness continue to speak to us from his writings. Those of us who had the privilege of knowing him personally and of working with him will miss above all his quiet kindness, his patience and his unflagging good nature in the face of adversity. My sincere condolences to Mary and family. May he rest in peace.
It is with sadness that I learned of the passing of the wonderful Richard Douthwaite. His book the Growth Illusion is a treasured posession, often referenced and grudglinly loaned! When I think of him and his work I am reminded of the irish proverb “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” – We all live in each others shadows (We all depend on each other).
My condolences to his family and friends.
Very saddened to hear of the passing of this gifted gracious thinker, we need his ideas, and theories to be heard until they are taken on at government and EU level
It is with great sadness that I have heard of Richard’s death.
I admired and learned from his “Ecology of Money”, “The Growth Illusion” , “Short Circuit”, and the Feasta Reviews . And I also have warm personal memories of his helpfulness, and of the pleasure of our meetings in the past at Feasta conferences and on other occasions.
Many people will miss him, and be grateful for his life.
It was a consolation to me to find that there was some one out there who understood so clearly the madness of our economic system and Richard Douthwaite was that some one. Like Dave Philips I first came across Richard’s book ‘The Growth Illusion’ at college. It was on our reading list at the Tipperary Institute.
I want to convay my condolences to his wife and family.
‘The Growth Illusion’ was a revelation for me. Richard put into words so clearly and succinctly, everything that I had felt and hadn’t the background or education to express. I was empowered as a result and gained the confidence to express these ideas in Church communities. Thank you Richard; you gave meaning to Isaiah 40 and perhaps we live in less of a ‘wilderness’ as a result of your time amongst us.
It is with great sadness that I learned of Richard’s death. I had the honour of acting as his Director of Elections in 1994 for the Connacht Ulster constituency. He brought such a new and dynamic perspective to the debate that, if it had been listened to would certainly have changed the course of events so that we would not be where we are today.
Tim Spalding, Donegal
Richard was a great man, with a great mind. RIchard was an inspiration to me personally. He was always approachable and kind as well as matter of fact and optimistic. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time and for the days ahead
Knowing you, Richard, was a great honour. May you now enjoy your new life with the Creator of all that you so courageously championed and valued.
Richard was a visionary academic who inspired and motivated all those who cared about sustainability. We are thankful for the generous time and thought provoking inputs he gave to CEF over the years. His passing leaves a real void but we have the rich legacy of his brillance in the collection of his works.
Sincere condolences to his wife and family.
Cork Environmental Forum
I know that we all work with Richards ideal in one way or another. Lets stay in touch, share ideas and keep the light burning. Bless u Richard, my good friend. Bless you Mary who has been an unseen hero. FEASTA can u make a netowrk out of this? He would want it. Candles lit here until Saturday and then my dear we will have to go on without you. Mary I will get across thge water in the Spring. Great big hugs.
i did not know Richard Douthwaite in person, but I had the opportunity to read some of his writings in my course Energy systems and Socio-ecological Sustainability. Moreover, he was my professor’s long time mentor, and friend. I am sorry to know that a man of his intellect and insight has left us at a time when our world needs precisely people like him.
Wherever Richard is I hope that he is fine and enjoying absolute happiness. He will be deeply missed, and remembered.
Brenda D Lemus
Many in our Living Economies networks held Richard in great respect – some knew him personally. We extend our deep sympathy to his wife Mary and their children, and to Richard’s many colleagues.
Richard cared deeply about the state of the planet and about social equity. His work with Feasta is of tremendous importance, particularly with regards his proposals for addressing the issues of climate change and the global economy – subjects he covered in Fleeing Vesuvius (launched late 2010), which he edited in partnership with Gillian Fallon.
Richard’s clear, visionary and creative thinking thankfully lives on in his writings.
Living Economies is hugely indebted to Richard for inviting us to publish the New Zealand edition of Fleeing Vesuvius, which adds 12 NZ authors to the original work.
Our greatest tribute to Richard will be to diligently tend the pioneering seeds he has sown, to the benefit of the planet and people he devoted so much of his heart and mind to.
Very sad to hear the news. I worked with Richard in the late 90s on indicators of sustainable development. He will be a sad loss. My thoughts are with his family.
I will miss Richard enormously. It was his lectures on a Feasta course I attended in 2005 that inspired me to get involved with Feasta, and I had the good fortune to work alongside him in the years since, most recently on editing a report about biochar, a subject about which, like so much else, he was incredibly excited and enthusiastic. As much as he was a creative, original and visionary thinker, he was also an amazing human being – kind, curious about the world and about people, humble, quick to laugh, keen to share, passionate and compassionate in equal measure. His optimism was a force of nature – it carried us all along and I hope it will continue to do so in the future. Richard also had a huge capacity for making people feel special, a rare gift. And as a lover of ideas, he made the impossible sound possible. In this sense, he made my world – and many others’, I’m sure – a bigger one.
He was a true mentor – nurturing in others the knowledge, self-belief and faith in people generally which he saw as an essential part of humanity’s resilience and ability to carry on into an uncertain future, better informed, better prepared and stronger. But it is his huge heart and spirit I will miss the most. He created enormous value in his life and, I’ve no doubt, his work will continue to create value now that he has gone.
Mary and his family were his rock. My deepest condolences to them and to the many friends he made all over the world.
Richard wrote articles for Construct Ireland, a magazine I edit, from 2004 till this year. His articles quickly become an integral part of our publication, and a key influence on the thinking behind the magazine. Over the last few days I’ve been reading over some of his articles for the magazine on subjects as diverse as peak oil & gas, the banking system and Amazonian soil. His treatment of complex and disparate subjects was exceptional, written in good, plain language that reflected his eagerness to be understood. At times he was, of course, unnervingly prescient.
Richard was always available to discuss and develop ideas, and I personally benefitted hugely from the great privilege of having regular brainstorming chats with him.
His enthusiasm, patience, kindness & humility was striking, and the manner in which he dealt with his illness was nothing short of astonishing. He made light of it, and carried on with his work with vigour & good humour, giving a clear sense that he had much more important matters to focus on than his own mortality. In this alone he set a singular example, in my experience. Perhaps the extraordinary sense of perspective that informed Richard’s work also enabled him to think beyond himself.
He is a great loss, but we are all better for having known him. My deepest sympathies to Mary and the rest of his family and friends.
I was in San Francisco explaining Hemp Building to a group of Hemp activists when I heard of Richards passing but I was cheered up when members of the audience related to the role Hemp can play in the Transition we are all trying to make and which Richard helped so much with. He helped us here in Kenmare with the trial currency the “Youro” making a presentation via Skype. Whenever I met him he was, above all and as others have said, a real gentleman. Love to his family
I was thinking of Richard a week or so ago and was wondering how he was. I am sad now to hear of his death. I liked him and remember when I first met him at CAT, I was inspired and encouraged by the insights he revealed. Subsequently I was pleased to spend time in his company at Forres (along with many from Feasta in February 2010).
In Ireland earlier this year I did not even know he was ill. (until Brian told me later). I cannot claim to know him hardly at all but feel he was amongst those who should live on and on , the world needs many more like him. My condolences to all who knew him.
Richard was a gentle and clear-thinking, noble person. In 2002 he visited Slovakia to give some lectures here. I´m thankful, that I had a chance to spend some days with him and his wife.
With sincere condolences to his family.
May I first of all offer my most deep and sincere condolences to Richard’s family.
I first met Richard in person at Tony Whilde’s farewell gathering – Tony had passed away in February 1995, one of the great early ecologists in Ireland. Meeting Richard there was something Tony, who also managed and liked to connect people, would have appreciated.
Every now and then I was able to listen to one of Richard’s talks, and I organised a few myself, be it for German Adult and Senior Students who came to Ireland, or as part of a conference here in Killarney entitled “Envisioning a New Way of Living – Community, Ecology and the (Im-)Possibilities of Sustainable Development”. Richard spoke about „Building a Sustainable Economy – Is it a Possibility or are We Facing Collapse?” A great debate followed this brilliant lecture.
His writings will remain vital, very helpful and educational for a long time to come. And his warmth and his willingness to share his vast knowledge will be greatly missed.
Everybody struggling for a just, sustainable, democratic and ecological society in Ireland and Europe lost a great intellectual and warm source of inspiration. Even more so in these increasingly confusing times.
A great great loss. What a wonderful inspiring man. His books have meant a great deal to me.Who will be able to fill his boots?
What sad new to hear of Richard’s death. He inspired so many in his writing and it was great to have been able to come to know him.
The great loss is of course to his family and friends but also to people who recognise the clarity of his thinking on some of the most important questions that challenge our societies.
He will be greatly missed.
Saddened to read the news on my first day back connected to email.
I still remember vividly the daily train commute to Dublin while reading and trying to understand Growth Illusion – not the sort of book I had ever read before – and finding it maddening to have so many unquestioned beliefs undone. That book forced me to ask questions and start to try to learn how this world works really.
I never met Richard until years later, but the times I was in his company were always enlightening and enjoyable.
Richard’s insights re sustainability will be sorely missed in a world where the vast majority treat such matters with insufficient regard.
He was a kindly, modest, intelligent and perceptive person and it is sad to realise he is gone.
Was gutted to hear of Richard’s untimely passing, just when the societies/economies of the World, the West, and this country in particular need him most.
Thank God for his rich legacy of work, for all his insights to show us the way forward to sustainable prosperity.
He was such a warm, generous, humane man. My deepest sympathy to his family.
Claire Wheeler (Dublin)
Goodbye and thank you Richard. There are many of us that will continue to see the world from the vantage of your tall shoulders.
I was deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the loss of Richard. He has contributed enormously to the cause of economic and environmental justice.
DDCI would like to express our sincere condolences to Richard’s family and friends, the Feasta community and indeed the global justice movement which is feeling his loss so greatly.
I found Richard to be an exceptionally warm person, who brought a calmness, sincerity and greater humanity to our discussion and work on building a more just and sustainable world.
Nessa Ní Chasaide (DDCI)
I was saddened to learn of Richard’s death. Richard was a rare kind: his work and the dedication he showed to his chosen cause was propelled, it seemed to me, only by pure intellectual curiosity and a genuine sense of social justice. Having heard him speak on many occasions, I would say – in his favour, in case there’s any ambiguity about this – that his charisma was more inspirational than personal: he always stayed firmly focused on the message, and you might walk away being a fan of his, but you would definitely find yourself grappling with the ideas he sent you home with and wanting to rejig your own ideas household after the encounter. It was in speaking with him within a small group or one to one, witnessing his gentle, modest and generous manner, that you would find yourself definitely becoming a fan – if you hadn’t already during an open address. His prescience and canny judgment about all things economic will, I believe, stand the test of time, and his seminal work in Feasta and beyond, in Ireland and beyond, will bear a long legacy.
I first got word of The Growth Illusion by way of a kind of message in a bottle: working at a summer job in Terenure in 1997, I had to run an errand to Bank of Ireland Commercial Finance on Baggott Street. It was the staff member behind the counter that day, a banker – the irony drew a broad grin from Richard when I told him the story – who slipped me a piece of paper with the name Douthwaite and the title of his groundbreaking book scrawled on it. To my regret I didn’t read it right away – and as a result found my way to Feasta only in 2005. A twist in my fate has taken me away again from direct work with Feasta, but the encounter still shapes what I do and how I live now.
I send my heartfelt sympathy to Richard’s wife Mary and his family and friends. My thoughts are with a number of people at Feasta too, his relatives in spirit (as opposed to blood), those who shared so much time, so many ideas and so much commitment with him and who I know will also miss him sorely.
Although I only met Richard once or twice, his was a household name for us. On reading one of the stories in his books over ten years ago, I was inspired by the pithy example of practical good sense exercised in a time before the sheer excess of fossil energy. At the time I wrote this poem about the story in his book. Richard, I hope it brings you a smile.
Economics For Living
In the great old dining hall
Aged faces line the walls
Faces slightly held aloof
T’ward oak beams that hold the roof
Three hundred years have passed those beams
And quite a few old college deans
Have read their speeches from the stage,
The beams have seen near every page.
About a score of years ago
The oak beams age began to show
First a tiny woodworm spot
And then began the fungal rot
Slowly, slowly in it crept
As people dined and people slept
Then one day the hue and cry
“The great old dining hall. Oh my.
Oh where, oh how, oh will we find
beams like those?” they upped and cried.
“Great oak trees of such an age
Are all cut down, oh sacrilege!”
The dean and all his wise advisors
Searched the land, yet none the wiser.
Great oak trees could not be found
Not far, nor near, no sight nor sound.
Then one day the college dean
Chanced to meet the gardener, Green.
“Green”, he said with some disdain,
“Any oaks in your domain?”
Green he hummed and hawed a while
Then mumbled with a wry old smile,
(Three hundred years or so ago
Some trees were cut with mighty blows,
More were planted there and then
For the day to start it all again.)
“Was wondering when you’d come to me,
To root out them there fine oak trees.
‘Them’s for the ’all’, me grandpa’d say
as said his grandpa in his way.
I’ll plant another few I will,
As you go down and take your fill.
Three hundred years from now an’ all,
We’ll need new beams in ’dining ’all.”
An incredibly sad news.
I quoted Richard in my Master Thesis that I completed last year.
A very big loss.
Was so shocked and saddened to hear (belatedly) of Richard’s death. Such a generous, hearty, profound thinker – my heartfelt sympathies go out to Mary and his family. I often quote from his work and cannot quite believe he will not be one (or more) steps ahead of my intentions whenever I want to look into currencies, carbon sequestration, etc. It is hard to believe that one of the most ‘alive’ people I ever met is no longer there to call upon. Thank you, Richard.
I just discovered and read the Ecology of Money on your site and then started to review the rest of the website and discovered the unfortunate news.
His writing and teaching continues though and I am extremely grateful for the guidance he provides.
My condolences to his family and friends. May his spirit live on and nourish us!
I have been thinking about Richard a lot these past weeks since I heard the sad news.
I posted a tribute to Richard on Huffington Post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-sandler/douthwaite-rowe-climate-change_b_1141625.html.
His work continues to inspire me, and now that he’s gone, it just means that we must work even harder to make sure his vision becomes a reality.
Late to hear this sad news in Australia, it was a wonderful privilege to have met Richard & learnt about FEASTA and his work at the Conference in 2005, What Will We Eat as the Oil Runs Out?
The vibrancy & community around FEASTA and its work, speaks to Richards good work.
He leaves us with much to remember and be remembered by.
I have only just heard about Richard’s death, having not been directly involved with many people the Green movement since I became heavily involved in local council affairs.
I first met Richard in 1965 when we were studying Economics at Essex at the same time. I had a cottage quite near the river in Wivenhoe, and Richard lived on a boat on the other side of the river with his wife Mary and (then very young) children. He kept his bike on “my” side of the river, and would take the ferry over and then bike up to the University, sometimes stopping off at my cottage for a cup of tea, and an (often long) and wide-ranging discussion, often on the folly of having economic growth as a major societal or economic aim.
We met only very intermittently after coming down from University, largely in the Green context, although members of our families had occasional hospitality in the other’s home. So I was delighted when, 25 years after we had first had those thought-provoking conversations, Richard asked me to read the manuscript of the “Growth Illusion”, which is a book of considerable depth, in case there were alterations needed. There were very few.
Not only was Richard a marvellous thinker and a very generous man, but was also a deeply caring family man. I am very sorry he has gone quite so early.
In these turbulent economic times, I have really felt the loss of Richard’s exceptional insights. His clearly expressed commentaries helped me make some sense of the world.
I first met Richard through his liaison with the Global Commons Institute and we gelled through our mutual antagonism to ‘business as usual’ economics. However, I remember Richard most for walking his Irish hilltop and his delight in finding Chanterelles and for knowing each one of the trees he had planted and why. My condolences to his family and friends. From now on we’ll just have to pick up the batons that Richard so heartily championed – panga knife in hand!
I learned about Richard’s book “Growth Illu$ion” while doing assignment and searching for alternative economics references at uni library. I have since graduated and very thankful to have read his book. He will long be remembered among the ‘pantheon’ of sustainability thinkers and his thought and ideas will live on and referred to in many many many students assignments! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us. Farewell Richard!
Remembering Richard Douthwaite from many years ago – seminal work ‘The Growth Illusion’ – still refer to it in my lectures. Hamba Kahle Richard.
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