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Inspiring Mentor

A politically engaged community remembers Doug Rand as a dreamer, a teacher and an embodiment of Santa Cruz's activist spirit

When local political activist Doug Rand died March 5, more than 30 of his closest friends met in a garage where much of Doug's Beach Flats campaign meetings were held. Everyone agreed that there would be no "memorial" name attached to anything but, to honor Doug and all of his contributions to our community, the attendees would title all remembrances as part of a celebration of Doug's life. Instead of a closing article about Doug, Metro Santa Cruz invited many friends to send in their messages of celebration. The number of messages sent in with only one day's notice was overwhelming. An edited sample appeared in the printed edition March 8, and the full, unedited collection appears here. Contributions to the Doug Rand Action Fund may be sent to 541 Wilkes Circle, Santa Cruz 95060.

I feel so saddened by the news that Doug Rand lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of 48. This is a profound loss both for the Resource Center for Nonviolence and for our community. I knew Doug for the past 20 years as a dedicated community activist. He struggled in Santa Cruz for 18 years in upstream and uphill battles. He educated us all about the ethical, emotional, economic and spiritual impacts of our growing military. He worked hard to provide this community with events and forums dedicated to social and political issues that affect the lives of people here and around the world. Doug hosted and organized speaking tours of human rights activists from around the world. In his role as coordinator of the Resource Center he gave so much to Santa Cruz. Doug was always doing the bulk of the work, day after day, month after month, year after year, yet he never took center stage or got full credit for his efforts. So persistent in his commitment and dedication, yet without selfishness or his ego getting in the way, Doug's gentle humor shone through, reflecting his philosophy of hope and love in the face of such difficult struggles and tragic situations.

Whenever I saw him riding his bicycle to or from the farmer's market or walking downtown with his wife, Mathilda, I was always glad to see him outside of his work, knowing that he did, in fact, find time to relax, beyond his daunting and dedicated work schedule. His role at the helm of the Resource Center was like an underfunded and unrecognized fire department captain, responding to emergency situations that flare up, providing those in need with economic and moral support, a place from which to speak to others, and enriching the awareness of concerned individuals in the community.

Doug was truly a mentor, a teacher and a guide. I know he lives on in those who were affected and influenced by his hard work and generous spirit. The reverberations of his hard work continue, but we will all sorely miss the wonderful gifts he gave th is community. Doug's gentle and warm spirit shine on and challenge us with a smile, to take courage and reach toward divisive issues with compassion.

Grant Wilson

While I am grateful for his many efforts on behalf of world peace and community empowerment, I am most appreciative of his willingness to take stands on more controversial issues. As one of the leading activists in challenging our local war on marijuana and those who would dare use this herbal remedy, I've long been amazed at the silence of our local peace and justice community in the face of the ongoing invasions of our homes and hillsides by low-flying helicopters and armed policemen. While these same folks are quick to denounce such military tactics in far away places, they do nothing to end such practices here at home. Except for Doug Rand! His eloquent testimony against the Sheriff's Marijuana Eradication Grant before the Board of Supervisors in 1998 proved that he was a man of integrity, whose deeds matched his words. I'll miss you Doug.

Theodora Kerry

I'm not as poetic as those quoted in the Metro, but I don't want to pass up an opportunity to sing the praises of Doug Rand. He was such a visionary man of the people. His community, and the physical and mental health of the world in which we live, were first and foremost his reason for breathing, I think. He was selfless in his dedication and brilliantly astute in his assessments of what needed our attention. I'm proud to say that Doug's inspiration and enthusiasm sent me to jail twice: once for protesting our warmongering in Central America, and once for handing out copies of the Bill of Rights, with educational information about alternatives to war toys, to Christmas shoppers at the Capitola Mall. Thank you, Doug, for adding meaning and a deeper sense of justice to my life.

P.S.: I also want to acknowledge Gloria Kaplan, who tirelessly organized friends of Doug to bring nightly meals for Mathilde and Doug during the last several months of his illness. This brought nurturance to all involved.

Marilyn Dreampeace

My tears and the incessant rain on Sunday marked the hour Doug Rand took his last labored breath. He was my very special friend, my inspiring mentor in our mutual struggle for peace in our time. Doug's memory will continue to loom large in our community--his tangible legacy, the Collateral Damage at the town clock, reflects his vision of a world without war. We mourn his death and rejoice in the inspiring inheritance he has left us, in the myriad of ways that Doug enriched our lives.

The hours I spent with Doug during his valiant struggle for survival include wonderful memories. We walked in his beloved forest, treasured the magnificent views, shared a space together.

In so many ways, large and small, his nurturing spirit has touched so many of us. He gave us food for thought, challenged us to follow his dreams, acknowledged all of us, no matter how small our contribution. The dreams he embraced--a nuclear free world, an end to war, a respect for the environment, social justice--were woven into the innovative projects he designed while program director at the Resource Center for Nonviolence. Our greatest tribute to Doug Rand will be to continue to carry his torch for peace and justice.

His friend,
Ruth Hunter

Doug Rand climbed onto the wild pig of politics as a young man with a vision of a world where conflicts could be settled without violence and a belief that people could govern themselves. He knew he was up against a set of terrible forces, but he believed in the power of awareness. He believed that if only people knew a better way, they would have a better chance to follow it; and he believed that people could and would act from their conscience if they were given the right kind of support.

So he was a political impresario, bringing us minstrels who lightened our spirits and thinkers who sharpened our wits. He was a political minister, helping young people to find a way to take a stand in keeping with their hearts; he was a political organizer, empowering others to seek office with a vision of how things could be more fair, more equitable. He worked efficiently with devotion to his beliefs, happy to stay behind the scenes, helping causes by working closely with individuals, caring nothing for the limelight, finding pleasure in nature, moving about town on his bike, a happy servant of his mighty vision.

I count myself lucky to live in a community that attracts such rare souls. Soft brown eyes, a gentle ready laugh, happy to hold the reins of leadership and just as willing to stick stamps on envelopes. He loved the human potential and dedicated his life to helping it become manifest. Thank you, Douglas, for your example and your work.

George Levenson

Throughout the two decades that have passed since I first met Doug Rand, he has stood as an extraordinary example, a person who devoted enormous time, energy, intelligence and caring--who, in fact, devoted his life--to serving the countless forgotten people threatened by war and corporate abuse, to challenging the pervasive madness of militarism and commercialism, to cultivating beauty and community.

I remember that Doug worked tirelessly during those early years within the movement to check and contain the threat which nuclear weapons and radioactive poisons pose to the inhabitants of the Earth.

I remember working with him to bring together the first community meeting of the Persian Gulf Peace Coalition during August of 1990, standing together in a large room packed with concerned local folk who were trying to avert and limit the looming catastrophe that the Gulf War and its bitter consequences would bring to the ordinary civilian men, women and children of that region, as well as to people in the U.S. armed forces.

I remember when he stood, against the odds and at great personal cost, to prophetically challenge the first involvement of a federal police/intelligence agency, through a major grant program, in the community organization where he himself worked for many years.

I remember that, in catalyzing and carrying forward the alliance that brought E.A. Chase's sculpture, Collateral Damage, into the heart of Santa Cruz as a unique community monument to the civilian victims of all wars, Doug also brought together the Western Hemisphere's largest 50th anniversary commemoration of Hiroshima and the nuclear age--drawing 14,000 people to San Lorenzo Park for a day of education, remembrance, music, prayerful reflection and re-dedication to the cause of a peaceful, nuclear-free future for the planet's children.

We all surely remember how Doug, against the odds, played a crucial catalytic role in bringing people together to challenge the bulldozing of homes in Beach Flats and the destructive commercial development plan that was eventually turned back by the people of that neighborhood and their allies.

I remember how Doug cultivated the beauty of music and life--from his carefully tended garden to the small house concerts and large folk music events, particularly the annual John McCutcheon performances, that he organized year after year.

Doug offered his life to serving others in many ways, large and small. Like many others, I experienced--and will never forget--the gift of his personal support and friendship. His life and work in global solidarity with all those threatened and victimized by institutional violence--especially war--stands, like the powerful and clear-edged silhouette of Collateral Damage against the sky, its lines clarifying against the sunset, like the deep-rooted strength of his favorite oak tree, like a star that shines brighter as the twilight deepens. In the words of John McCutcheon's song "Gone--Gonna Rise Again":

    like a tall tree growing in the mountain ground the storms of life cut him down

    but the new wood springs from the roots underground

Doug's spirit will continue to rise whenever people rise to speak up, to sing out, to join hands, to rise for life and justice against the scourges of war and greed. Or as they would say in Latin America of the people's fallen heroes and heroines, whose spirit and love carry on: "companero Doug Rand--presenté!"

Peter Lumsdaine
Santa Cruz, California

It is very difficult to remain silent in Santa Cruz. It is a place where the very air seems to solicit an opinion, and where every open space invites petitions, campaigns and speeches. Activism tinges the air, makes us think, challenges us, causes us to squirm uncomfortably and question indignantly. To the extent we view Santa Cruz as a cauldron of grass roots movements exhorting us to do better, we must think of Doug Rand.

More than anyone else I can think of, Doug epitomized the activist spirit of Santa Cruz. The causes, campaigns and movements he championed were the embodiment of a steadfastly progressive and optimistic outlook that simply would not settle for the way things are. Doug lived his life in the struggle for the way things ought to be. And in the long and raucous years of that struggle, he infused the community at large with a sense of ownership and collective responsibility. Doug's life in our community was premised on the conviction that the status quo was never impervious to the will of the people.

I like to think that Doug is sitting somewhere right now with a peevish expression on his face, somewhat annoyed at being the center of all this attention. For him, the cause was the thing, and such ego as he had, he used to move the cause forward, never himself. Doug has left us with much to do, but he's also left us with an example. We, as a community, will never forget.

Keith Sugar

When I heard of Doug's death, the world suddenly felt much heavier on my shoulders.

He was in many ways the conscience of the progressive community. Doug would never barter away the right thing to do for the sake of what was politically feasible or expedient. Because of this, he accomplished things that other people thought impossible, and inspired others to do the same. On more than one occasion I found myself involved in something just because Doug asked me to.

He was a good man who loved his family, his garden and his community. We are all the poorer for his leaving us.

Shelly D'Amour,
Santa Cruz

He was a man who brought our town a monument ... and he is a monument of a man.

Much love,
Jimmy Kelly

I can't be sure if I was already a supporter of the Resource Center for Nonviolence or if that began with my delivering mail there in the early '80s. In any event, it was certainly enhanced by the personal relationship that began with Doug those years. Even when I didn't have "mail business" with him, we'd often cross paths on Ocean Street or Broadway, me pushing my mail cart, Doug riding his trademark bicycle. One of my most endearing memories of Doug was how he would always take the time, no matter how many great causes/projects he was spearheading, to send a personal thank you for the periodic contributions I would make to the Resource Center. He would usually write, in handwriting almost as illegible as mine, on a card with an inspirational message, always closing with "warmly, Doug." the greatest inspiration was that he cared so deeply about what he was involved in, and he recognized that it took all of us, with our small, individual efforts, to have a chance to accomplish the tasks.

In recent months, I considered myself fortunate enough to be among those who would walk, read or just sit with him on occasion, and I noticed that, while his ability to communicate verbally decreased, he communicated with his strong, personal and direct eye contact--and that he continued, more than ever, to care.

Peter Szydlowski

After Doug left Chico for Santa Cruz, it was like he became my mentor in peace work. I appreciated so much being thought of at regular intervals--even books, posters and tapes--things that took time and money to send. If an issue seemed overwhelming or cloudy to me, he always had such a balanced and clearly stated opinion that I really believed there was (is?) a solution for all problems if clarity and will conjoin.

Chris Nelson,

Doug understood what it was all about. He could think so well, and we lost him that way. He was so loving and kind. I know that the people we love most deeply, we don't have them forever. I'm so heartbroken.

Willa Taggart, 94,
Chico Peace Endeavor

Doug is a father and mentor. He let me pet his soft white rabbit, helped me write, visited me in jail, said he would always help were I in need and inspired me with his unique determination and hard work. Perhaps he is now winging towards the world of which he dreamed.

Anders Corr

During this past year of treatment, humility, savage indignation, gentle gratitude, Doug would take me on walks in the woods, each carefully planned to reveal a part of his life. One day he showed me the dense, buzz-cut moss that grew fuzzy on untreated, old fence wood right next to the barren stretches of treated wood. The next visit he'd take me to a miracle tree, normal and healthy on one side and entirely hollowed out on the other, an abundant halo of apples inspiring our smiles and awe as deer witnessed our silence. Doug shared the holy places, the temenoi, with the precision and certainty of knowledge and the pleasure of generosity. His voice echoes in my own: "no!" and "yes!" and, finally, "yes!!"

Don Rothman

I met Doug in 1998 as part of the Beach Area Working Group and was immediately enchanted by this man's organizational prowess, humor and ability to bring a community together with lots of warmth and enthusiasm. Doug has touched my life and my heart in ways that few people have. His tireless efforts and grand appreciation towards anyone and everyone who could contribute anything to a cause he believed in were inspiring and heart warming. As a friend, Doug was priceless--supportive, generous, humble, and gracious. Exploring the woods with him, looking at the light, the way the bark was growing on a certain tree, making wildflower bouquets, sitting in a field of rattlesnake grass and soaking in the sun or wind or on the edge of a canyon watching the trees or the birds--there was always Doug's half-hidden smile as if to say "see, isn't this good?" Yes, Doug, and better for having shared it with you. Thank you for all you gave to each of us individually and to us as a community; may we now go on giving in memory of you.


It's time to celebrate our good fortune from having an exceptional person with us the last couple decades. Doug Rand has been a local hero in the very richest sense. His stalwart commitment to the principle that violence is not an acceptable alternative has been an inspiration to me and to many people I know. The depth of his commitment to local activism could have filled a textbook. While some people did not agree with every action Doug chose to undertake, no doubt they understand and hopefully respect his roots in principle.

We have had a privilege in being associated with Doug. Hopefully, everyone who had that privilege will derive the kind of rich benefit and inspiration I have drawn from that experience.

Ed Porter

Doug Rand was a dear friend who stood by me in many of my controversial protests in this community. We had many years of activism together that began in the 1980s. From placing stickers on war toys and protesting naval ships in the harbor to protesting the Miss California contest, we understood and enjoyed each other's courage and determination. His death is a terrible loss not only for his loved ones but this community and the community at large that he affected. Doug epitomized the phrase, "Think Globally Act Locally." He was a rare individual with a great spirit that will never be forgotten.

Ann Simonton,
Media Watch-Myth California

With his extraordinary talent for organizing people (and his refusal to take "no" for an answer), he showed us how to make our voices heard. This community has had the distinction of having a gentle, forceful giant in our midst. I profoundly mourn his passing but promise to continue to organize for a world without war and hunger and injustices.

Sandy Silver
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

Beloved Doug, we dreamt similar dreams in different parts of the world. Your caring visions for peace and justice and putting them into practice will never be forgotten. You bloomed! Many people will be your heirs and carry on what you have begun.

Your elder-in-residence,
Nicola Geiger

I served in combat in World War II in Italy . As a veteran, I joined Doug Rand in protesting the visit of the Navy ship because I am against glorifying violence and against military spending. I knew what war was, and I didn't want it to happen again. We made quite a partnership.

Dan Miller

Doug Rand was selfless and total in his commitment to peace as well as to his stubborn struggle to preserve quality of life in the Beach Flats area. But also to be honored, in an era of quick marriages followed by quick divorces, was the devotion of Doug and Mathilde to each other in their marriage of more than a quarter of a century.

Marilyn and David Rigler

For too brief a moment he was my touchable brother. Now he is my spiritual brother, because I believe in such things. I loved him.

We have too few friends, too few heroes. Doug Rand was a hero for me and a model for pursuing the truth and clinging to it--with grace, with gentility, and with determination. But most of all he was a loving friend, and I sorely miss him.

Tim Fitzmaurice

Doug was one of the very few people I could not say no" to. I worked with Doug, off and on, for almost 20 years: from fighting the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant (as People for a Nuclear Free Future) to passing Proposition 12 (the 1982 Nuclear Freeze Initiative), raising awareness about U.S. intervention in Nicaragua, protesting the Persian Gulf war, electing a new progressive council, and so many other campaigns. Doug Rand, never at a loss for a dry quip or wry shot from the hip, was unsurpassed in dedication, integrity, and energy. I will miss him.

Terry Teitelbaum
Former Director of the Santa Cruz County Nuclear Weapons Freeze

Doug was a passionate person, passionately committed to his community, to peace, social justice and protection of life in all its forms. There are so many positive adjectives that come to mind, reflecting on Doug's life in our midst ... brave, determined, dedicated, brilliant, warm-hearted, intense, loyal, compassionate, and many more, including utter integrity. Above them all, his passion to make our community, our country, our planet a better place to live for everyone stands out. His dream was our dream, and with his valiant efforts we moved closer to realizing that dream.

Doug was also unfailing in his consistent acknowledgement of the efforts of others. How many warm, sweet written thank you notes he must have sent out over the years! The last one we received, in the midst of his final brave struggle for life, was extraordinary. Doug was extraordinary. As we mourn his untimely loss, my heart is full of gratitude for his life of generous giving. We must rededicate ourselves to carrying out his life's work.

Celia Scott

I first knew Doug Rand through community activities supporting peace, nonviolence and social justice in the late 1980s. Whenever I read about his activism or saw him at events, I was impressed by the strength of his convictions, his courage and his energy. Our political work in the last few years brought us more closely together, and I began to know Doug as a friend. During the early parts of his illness, we took walks together and as we talked, he shared his wisdom and beauty with me. He loved the earth, his home, his family, and humanity. His work was an intense expression of his deep concerns. I feel so fortunate to have known Doug and to have had a glimpse of his inner life which nurtured his public activism.

Sue Powell

Doug Rand is perhaps best known publicly for his abundant work on peace and nonviolence, ranging from prescient personal-level opposition to providing violent toys to children to local-level opposition to violent sports to international advocacy for peace around the world and rejection of war as a way of resolving disagreements. But he was so much more complex than that.

Doug focused his abundant energy and intelligence on advocating on behalf of the vulnerable and underrepresented in every aspect of the human experience. Sometimes this meant working against inequality for women, sometimes empowering economically and culturally disadvantaged groups, and sometimes it meant standing up for the environment. Every issue that he took on benefited enormously from the expertise, love and strength he brought to it. What inspired so many people about Doug was his faith in humankind, and he carried that flame burning strong in Santa Cruz for two decades.

What really didn't make it into the newspapers, though, was the personal side of Doug's interaction with people. I only met Doug three years ago, and yet during the campaigns we worked on together, my husband and I would each call him independently 2-3 times a day for words of support, advice and encouragement. He was always there to make us feel like the most important people in the world and that we could really do what we were trying to do. He would drop by unexpectedly with flowers or to take care of our animals while were away at work, several times every week. After he became ill, I discovered that he had been similarly caring for so many others. Every person who interacted with him felt special and important. He cared about each of us individually and proved to us that collectively our individual actions were powerful and could change the quality of our community for the better. In this fragmented world of commuter activism, Doug kept so many of us moving forward.

It is impossible to describe how much Doug Rand will be missed. But the best way to honor his contribution to our lives is to run with the torch he has passed us and to work twice as hard as before to create a more peaceful, just, compassionate, environmentally conscious, community-based future.

Rachel O'Malley
Assistant Professor
Environmental Studies Department
San Jose State University

Doug just died. Just like that. Zap, he's gone!

Only last night I sat with him looking at his sleeping face and felt the warmth of his near lifeless hand in mine. It's the same hand that had written passionate articles about warships in bay waters, children's toys and nonviolent struggles. It's the same hand that had held many picket signs and folded leaflets. It's the same hand that had carefully planted carrots, gently stroked his rabbits and stirred a delicious soup.

Now his voice is silent. I heard only his breaths, short, tentative. The voice that had spoken clearly on environmental and political issues is absent. His was the voice that had helped me to find my own and use it.

Doug was not always right, but he was always Doug. Wanting to make things better, he struggled to live by his own values, not those of our troubled society. His examples, good and bad, have helped me to examine my own life and come to understand what it means to be human.

Dear Doug, I'm privileged to have known you. I'll miss you.

Carl Stancil

I have a Doug Rand goat story. Doug loved goats. He used to tend them on a kibbutz in Israel. It was during the Beach Area Planning meetings at the Civic Auditorium. You know, the ones that drew 600 and 700 people, most of whom said no to the planned Boardwalk expansion and Third Street realignment back in 1998. Doug was one of the main organizers against the Beach Plan. Man, could that guy organize. He used to come over my house in the Lower Ocean neighborhood and tend to my three goats. He loved those goats.

During that time he talked me into running for City Council. The night of one of the big town hall meetings on the Beach Plan he says to me, "Hey Christopher, bring Kazoo (the mother goat) to the Civic." I said, "But Doug, what if something goes wrong. Aren't goats usually the anti-hero anyway?" He says, "That's what this campaign is about, isn't it? The usual (political) suspects want big box stores on River Street, knock down 11 homes for Boardwalk expansion, and they want to sell homeless garden plots so that developers can build $800,000 palaces. Those are our political heroes? Seems like you guys (Krohn, Sugar, and Fitzmaurice) should be associated with an anti-hero, like Kazoo." I said I wasn't sure about it and Doug said, "Trust me, just bring the goat to the Civic."

I always trusted Doug, so I brought Kazoo. Doug set up his tables as he usually did and distributed leaflets at the door of the Civic. I left the goat with him. That night the 11 o'clock news featured the goat. Next day, there was the goat on the cover of the local newspaper bringing attention to the flawed beach area planning process and the City Council candidates who were opposed to the plan. Doug knew. He always knew. I thought he would know how to beat cancer, too. I was wrong.

Christopher Krohn

Doug Rand was one of those rare persons whose life was single-mindedly and passionately committed to nonviolence. He worked long hours, earned minimal pay and took few vacations. The "good life" for Doug was organizing against violence, speaking out against violence, sponsoring others to sing against violence and create art against violence. Violence, in Doug's world, was not to be tolerated in any way or form. He saw the connections between all forms of violence--violence against children (war toys and violent TV), violence against women (the beauty pageant), violence in sports (wrestling), violence in international politics (symbolized by the Navy ship), violence against the Earth (dumping garbage into the ocean) and violence against the poor (uncontrolled, profit-driven development in Beach Flats). His brilliant mind ranged broadly over these issues and saw the connections. And he plunged into the battle with enthusiasm, humor and determination. How we loved you, Doug, were inspired by you and miss you.

Barbara Riverwoman

Doug Rand has, for the last 20 years been a beacon in my life, and for longer than that a beacon in our community. Doug is an incredible example of combining one's heart and mind and not settling for anything less. I always told him that he was the best hugger, but he was doing his best to hug the whole world with all that that entails. Thank you, Doug! You will be sorely missed.

Catharine Gunderson

Doug taught me to be still and listen in the middle of chaos. I treasure the time I spent with him over the last year, especially sitting with him in his magical woods and listening to the trees speak. Even in his illness he continued to teach us to walk quietly on this planet. His memory will be a constant reminder to me not to stray from my principals. I will really miss him.

Claudia Shafer

I will fondly remember Doug Rand as a tireless activist who championed causes of peace and justice in our community for many, many years. I worked with him for six years at the Resource Center for Nonviolence and will forever be inspired by the depth of his work and his fearlessness to stand up against injustice. But I will also remember how he nurtured his personal relationships as well. He was generous with thoughtful acknowledgments. He remembered birthdays, shopped for friends who were sick and organized support for others who needed more help. He was funny and kind. He loved animals and trees and music. And for those of us who believe in the same causes that he did, each one of us will need to rededicate ourselves to the movement because his energy will be very, very difficult to replace.

Jean Marie Peterson
Santa Cruz

Doug constantly gave re: social concerns and people in need. It wasn't until his illness that he learned to receive.

A co-worker of his,
Rosalie Pizzo-Strain

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From the March 8-15, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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