Dorothy Stowe would be 100 today. She passed away peacefully ten years ago in Vancouver, where she co-founded Greenpeace with her husband Irving and other Vancouver pacifists and ecologists. Here is a photograph taken of Dorothy Stowe and me at the 2009 release party for the CD from the concert – featuring Joni Mitchel and James Taylor – that launched Greenpeace in 1970.
When I think of Dorothy, I recall that I always wanted to be the best I could be around Dorothy, to live up to her example of unwavering dedication and unflappable modesty. Dorothy never tried to make social activism about herself, always about the issues before us. She would volunteer for any job and she would do it. No one, not even the Prime Minister of Canada, could intimidate her, but she had time and kindness for everyone.
Dorothy and Irving held their wedding reception at the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) headquarters, and spent the evening listening to music and organizing public actions. They became Quakers, dedicated their lives to peace and justice, and adopted the name “Stowe” from Harriet Beecher Stowe, Quaker advocate for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. During the early years of Greenpeace, Dorothy served as a stabilizing, inclusive influence, who inspired people to help and made everyone feel valued and essential to the movement. Dorothy Stowe intuitively understood how to organize social change with hard work and a big heart.