Lynn Allen: 1948-2011
Words simply can't describe the pain we all feel at this moment. Lynn was one of the kindest, brightest people that any of us has ever known.
She has played an integral role in NPI's development; for instance, last summer, she took it upon herself to host our first board retreat, which ended up being an incredibly productive gathering.
Lynn was also the catalyst for the first two NWroots Conferences in Olympia in 2006 and 2007 — the first netroots-oriented gatherings to be held at our state's capitol. As the co-organizer, I can attest that without her organizational skills, know-how, and facilitating prowess, those events simply could not have happened.
Lynn brought so much to the table as a board member. She was resourceful, strong, and wise, always ready to provide dependable advice to any of us. But more than that, she was a dear friend.
Words that come to mind when I think of Lynn include considerate, compassionate, caring, helpful, hospitable, unselfish, and trustworthy.
Lynn represented the best of us. She was passionate about improving the human condition, as we all are. Particularly late in her life, she chose to focus on outreach to rural communities, and spent many long hours on the road driving between farms and gathering places in Eastern Washington.
She was deeply interested in helping netroots activists learn offline organizing techniques, and helping veteran grassroots activists master new technologies. Building stronger ties between the grassroots and the netroots was a favorite topic that we touched on in our many conversations.
Lynn was born October 6th, 1948 on Mercer Island, just a few weeks before Harry Truman defeated Thomas Dewey in one of the most memorable elections in American history. The oldest of four children, she grew up here in the Evergreen State and graduated from Mercer Island High School in the 1906s. She received her bachelor's degree in history from the University of Washington in the early 1970s.
As a college student, Lynn was a vocal opponent of the "police action" in Vietnam, and joined other students in protesting the conflict loudly and often.
Lynn was also briefly an instructor at Seattle's Alternative School No. 1.
When she was twenty-eight, she moved to the Bay Area, living in San Francisco and then Alameda. She eventually became interested in organizational management and joined The Villard Group, serving as a consultant for a number of companies, including Intel (which has a significant Left Coast presence) and Bank of America.
Lynn enjoyed traveling; when she was younger she went on a memorable trip to South America (Chile and Argentina). She also spent time in Western Europe.
In 2004, she served as Chris Gregoire's campaign blogger, chronicling life on the campaign trail and profiling volunteers. Following the campaign, she joined Jon Stahl, Jeff Reifman, and Yoram Bauman at Evergreen Politics, where she often posted her reflections on current events. In 2009, she began regularly blogging at her own site, Rebuilding Democracy.
Lynn initially intended for Rebuilding Democracy to be a nonprofit consultancy offering consulting, training, leadership development, technical and new-media assistance to Democratic and progressive organizations to help them strengthen their grassroots organizing capacity. But she was so dedicated to the rural outreach that she was doing for the Institute for Washington's Future that she only ended up investing a limited amount of time developing Rebuilding Democracy. However, she always thought of RD as her virtual home.
And it will continue to be. I am pleased to announce that NPI intends to maintain Rebuilding Democracy as a permanent archive of Lynn's many creative works.
Before Lynn passed away, she gave us the authority to protect and present her blog posts, photographs, and videos for all time.
We are deeply committed to preserving her legacy, and in the coming weeks, we will finish importing Lynn's posts from Evergreen Politics (which is now defunct) into Rebuilding Democracy, along with the entries Lynn authored for Chris Gregoire's campaign log in the autumn of 2004. You can take a look at the archive in formation by visiting Rebuilding Democracy.
To say that Lynn will be missed is an understatement. As a friend, as a leader, as a source of knowledge, she is irreplaceable. To know her was an honor and a privilege, which all of us will be incredibly thankful for forever.
She will always be in our hearts.
FROM GAEL: Lynn’s presence will be part of our future in a different way – we will keep bringing back her ideas and wisdom as we continue her work and passion. Henry David Thoreau’s words (from his book, “Walking”) are all I have right now:
I trust that we shall be more imaginative, that our thoughts will be clearer, fresher and more ethereal as our sky, — our understanding more comprehensive and broader, like our plains, - our intellect generally on a grander scale, like our thunder and lightning, our rivers and mountains, and forests, — and our hearts shall ever correspond in breadth and depth and grandeur to our inland seas.Carpe Diem – Seize the Day.
FROM STEVE: Lynn was a dedicated progressive who provided inspiration to many. Besides serving on NPI's board, she was active in the Democratic Party as well as other organizations like the Institute for Washington's Future. Her blog posts on Evergreen Politics and most recently on Rebuilding Democracy were good and thoughtful reads. Lynn will be missed. Our best tribute to her is to continue our efforts for a better democracy with renewed dedication and commitment, knowing that she will be sorely missed but she is counting on us to carry on.
FROM RALPH: Lynn showed her devotion to liberal democracy by the work she did. I met her while she worked as outreach coordinator for Darcy Burner's campaign for Congress. Lynn inspired me by her work to create Rebuilding Democracy: a noble project, though it fell short of her plans for it. Lynn was a caring advocate for so many worthy causes. Her sense of purpose, leavened with inherent calmness and good cheer, will be missed.